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TONI'S
TAKE
- 2006 -

Toni’s Thoughts on Life, Music and Whatever...
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New Year’s Eve

POSTPONING TONI’S TAKE

I’m going to have to postone TONI’S TAKE until Tuesday morning. I just don’t have time, with all the holiday goings on, to organize my thoughts. I hope you ALL have a safe, sane, and joyful New Year. One of my fondest hopes for 2007 is that we will all try to be more civil and courteous with each other. When you go out today, try to greet people along the way with a smile....it can be a tiny one...just try at least to have a pleasant look on your face (that’s what I tell Daryl.... Eeyore personified). The cashier at the supermarket.... the lady you meet pushing her cart in the grocery aisle....the teller at the bank..the kid walking their dog. Try looking them straight in the eyes and say, “Good morning” or just “Hi” as you pass by. I find that even people who seem to be total grumps will light up just a bit if you do that. And look for TONI’S TAKE this Tuesday. Until then, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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December 24 , 2006

CHRISTMAS EVE 2006 | THOUGHTS ON THE NEW YEAR



The air was a chilly 40 degrees this morning as the sun rose over the palm trees here at our home in La Quinta. However, the sky is now a brilliant blue, and the temperature is supposed to reach the mid 70s here on this lovely Christmas Eve. My sister, Louisa and her husband, Bob, along with their darling little Chow/Corgi mix, Tina, arrived yesterday to spend Christmas with us. I adore Louisa and Bob....they are bright and funny, and make me laugh.

Today I am making dinner for Louisa and Bob, our friends Judy and Boots, and, of course, dear Daryl. It will be a pretty simple repast..... Chicken and Dumplings for everyone but Daryl. He will have his own vegetarian entree. We’ll all enjoy steamed green beans with almonds, and big salad. Daryl gets a special dessert...”
Legal Apple Pie”...which I plan to bake as soon as I finish writing this. “Legal” means, as most of you know, a whole wheat pie crust, and honey or pure maple syrup instead of sugar for the apple filling. The rest of us are going to try to make a dent in the fudge and brownies we have been given as gifts. But more important than the food, is the warm friendship and lively conversation we’ll share together.
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I know you will understand when I tell you that this TONI’S TAKE will be brief. I have lots of cooking to do!
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Since we are about to begin a brand new year, I had the thought that you should know a few basic things about us. Many of you probably think you know us pretty well, but you might be surprised at what I am about to tell you. Some of you may be disillusioned, and decide that we are not your “cup of tea.” But it has always been my policy to be up front and straight ahead. Emotional gameplaying is a total waste of time. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. You must be who you are, and if people don’t like it, then they are not the kind of people you should be worried about impressing or spending time with.
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Daryl and I are not religious. He was raised Catholic, and I was raised Episcopalian, but over the years, we found that organized religion did not speak to our spiritual needs. We have many friends who are Christian....and we also have friends who are Jews, Agnostics, a couple of Atheists, and even a B'Hai guy! We love and respect them all. In fact, we included SILENT NIGHT on our Christmas CD (which is otherwise pretty secular) , not only because it is a beautiful song, but also because it means so much to our Christian friends and relatives, such as my sister, Melissa.
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Daryl is a registered Republican, and I am a registered Democrat, but we found that neither political party truly represented us. So, since everybody seems to need some sort of "label" these days, we call ourselves "Independent Moderates." Both of us were opposed to the Iraq war from the very beginning, but were willing to accept the possibility that the administration "knew things we didn't know", Unfortunately, things have turned out exactly as we had feared, and we are terribly distressed about it.
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These days, most people talk about politics or religion only with people who agree with them, because all sides are dug in, unwilling to consider another opinion, and it just causes tension and stress. It saddens me so much that our country has become so divided...that civility and common courtesy seem to be rarities. I am hoping that, in the new year, we will all find more common ground, and try to treat each other with more respect and care.
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Daryl and I both hope you all have a joyous and warm Christmas and much happiness in 2007. In the meantime, Keep ASong of Joy” Inside Your Heart.
ONE

December 17, 2006

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.... MY VICTOR/VICTORIA STORY - PART ONE


From the time I was a little girl, growing up in Alabama, music and the arts were a central part of my life. I studied classical piano from the time I was seven years old until my senior year in high school. I also took classes in ballet, tap, and acrobatics (I was way too tall for ballet, and I was horrible at the acrobatics... couldn’t do a frontwise split.... I had to turn my hips sideways to do the deed). Most of my friends, and my sister Jane, took dance classes as well. To this day I am grateful for the classes and the dance recitals. I’m a rotten dancer, but at least I stand up straight, and don’t usually bump into the furniture on stage. I was tall even then, and a bit chubby, and pretty awkward, so dance classes helped a lot with my ability to move around with a modicum of grace.
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By the time I reached junior high school, I was very excited about theatre and doing plays. I acted in my very first play when I was in ninth grade. The play was FATHER KNOWS BEST, and, of course, since I was SO tall, I played “Mother”. I acted in at least a play a year until I went to college at Auburn University. There I majored in English and minored in Music and sang every weekend with the Auburn Knights Orchestra to help pay for my education, so theatre fell by the wayside until a few years later.
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My sisters and I used to sing together constantly, trying to pick out the harmonies from female groups like THE McGUIRE SISTERS and THE KING SISTERS. We learned all the songs in every new musical that hit Broadway. Whenever we were in the car together, we would assign each other parts and would sing the entire score to SOUTH PACIFIC, OKLAHOMA, even PORGY AND BESS (I was always Porgy). This would, of course, drive our parents crazy, but there was no shutting us up.
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I always had a thought in the back of my mind that I would love to perform in a musical on Broadway. A lot of girls have this same dream, and I realized my chances were less than slim. But still, the idea always lurked in the back of my mind. I did perform in many community theatre musical productions and plays over the years...I even WROTE my own musical, MOTHER EARTH, at South Coast Repertory Theatre in southern California. Even though the shows were fun to do, and I learned a LOT... they weren’t Broadway.



Which brings me to VICTOR/VICTORIA. This is a long story, and I probably will have to write it in two parts, so here begins the saga. (see www.youtube.com clip of Julie Andrews here)
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Around 1997, a friend of our then manager, suggested to me that he thought I would be perfect to take over the role of Victoria in the musical VICTOR/VICTORIA, which was running on Broadway at the time, starring the great, beloved Julie Andrews. She had already starred in a wonderful 1983 movie of the same title, written and directed by her famous husband, Blake Edwards, of PINK PANTHER fame.
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The V/V story in a nutshell is about a “woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman,” and the part is demanding, for the singing as well as the acting. Henry Mancini wrote most of the score...but, sadly, he passed away before it was completed, and Frank Wildhorn completed the score. Leslie Bricusse wrote the lyrics.
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I got a copy of the score, and started to work through it, to see if I could handle the vocal demands. I found it fit comfortably within my range... in fact, it worked well for me, because I am basically a tenor. The only vocal problem for me was the one high note, which provides a running “joke” throughout the play. Everytime Victoria sings that high note, glass shatters, and everything and everyone within earshot comes to an awe-struck halt. I could sing a high enough note to make the joke work, but I’d be in trouble if I ever had a cold or an allergic reaction, because the first things I lose in my voice are my falsetto or “high” notes. As long as I am singing in the “chest” range, I can sing for hours with no problem.
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The more I thought about the possibility of doing the role, the more I wanted to do it. Julie was reportedly exhausted. She had taken the show through all the out of town tryouts, which are just brutal and incredibly demanding, and had been starring in it on Broadway for quite some time. After studying the score, I had the thought that perhaps it was even more demanding for her voice than it would be for mine, because she is a true soprano, and singing in the chest voice all the time is difficult for most sopranos.
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The financial success of the show rested on her slender shoulders and crystalline voice. The word on the street was that she was continuing the run because she was trying to keep going until the show turned a profit. In spite of her difficulty, she was thinking of the investors first.
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Daryl and I talked about my going for the part, and we decided that, in the SLIM possibility it should EVER come to pass, we’d figure out how to get ourselves and the dogs and cats to New York for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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I decided that the first thing I had to do was record myself singing some of the songs from the show. Once the tape was made, I sent it to our manager, and she played it for various industry people. She said the general concensus was that I would be great in the part and should go for it. Also, I’m tall and not big-busted (Julie had to be “squashed” in the breast area to look more like guy in her tuxedo) so, physically, I could pull off the “Victor” part. There didn’t appear to be a great deal of dancing for Victoria... a bit of soft shoe with Toddy..so I figured I could handle it (or fake it).
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My next step was to make an audition video of myself doing one of the scenes from the show. This turned out to be a big, expensive proposition, but the tape was terrific, and, in the end, was instrumental in my getting the part.
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One of the many problems facing me was the fact that I had NO connections in New York musical theatre. However, my manager had a colleague who worked for one of the biggest theatrical agencies in New York, and there was a possibility he could get my audition tape to the right people.
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Now remember, all the time I was trying to get this part, I had in mind that I would take over the role on Broadway. That meant moving to New York for the length of the run. I never thought beyond that possibility.
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As all the pieces started to fall into place, and I began to think I had a real shot at the part, word came that Raquel Welch had been chosen to take over for Julie on Broadway. I was too late, and probably didn’t have a big enough name anyway. I had no Broadway experience, and Raquel had appeared in a Broadway musical...WOMAN OF THE YEAR I believe it was... a few years back. I had a very hard time picturing Welch, who was no more than 5”4” tall, and very big busted, being believable as a man. When she was cast, I thought that was the end for me.
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Well, Raquel’s run lasted only a few weeks. Without Julie in the lead, VICTOR/VICTORIA closed on Broadway. The show just couldn’t make it without her. I doubt I could have kept it going much longer either, but I sure would love to have tried.
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Then came the possibility of doing the first National Tour of the show. I was pretty naive about how this was done, but I THOUGHT the show would play in large cities, like LA and Toronto, for two or three months at a time before moving to another place. Maybe Daryl and I and the pets could rent a house in each location if I got the part. By that time, I was like an out-of-control freight train, hurtling down the tracks without brakes. I WANTED that part. I KNEW I’d be good in it. I could deal with two or three months in each city. We’d work everything out so I could have this ONE chance to do a Broadway musical...even if it WAS on the road and not in New York.
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Finally, after meeting with the producers and tour company in New York, I found out what the tour would REALLY be like. It would involve a month of rehearsals in New York, and forty weeks on the road, changing cities every week for the most part...sometimes doing a “split” week....three days in one city...three days in another. All the while I would be doing eight shows a week. One on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and two on Saturday and Sunday. Monday we’d pack up, head to the airport, and move to the next city. I would be required to do television interviews on opening day in each city, and phone interviews throughout the week...most of them on Thursdays..to promote the show in the next city.
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If I had managed to stop the train for a while, and take stock of the ramifications of the decision I was about to make, I’m sure I would have turned and run in the opposite direction. But I just was SO close to what I had been working for... well, not EXACTLY what I had been working for.... I failed to heed the warning in my “gut”. NEVER ignore what your GUT is telling you! Even as old as I was at the time (57), and ALL the years I had been in the business, I made a huge mistake, and I, and many others, paid the price.
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I will continue the VICTOR/VICTORIA story in future columns. You know, I think it is going to take more than two columns to tell this story. Actually, as I am writing about it, I am starting to relive some of the emotional upheaval I went through. It is proving to be hard to put myself back in that place. There is SO much to tell, and I learned a BIG lesson about myself, and I learned it the hard way.
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I hope you are all having a joyous and peaceful holiday season. Until next time, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart.

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December 10, 2006

SHIRLEY BASSEY, CHARO AND TOUCH YOU | THE SONGWRITING BOX
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Recently a fan sent us a link to a video on YouTube that featured a 1978 performance of my song THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU by the powerful, formidable, and elegant British pop singer, Shirley Bassey. I had never seen it before, and I can’t tell you what a kick I got out of watching it. YouTube can be SO much fun!
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For those of you who are too young to be familiar with Shirley Bassey, she sang the famous theme song for the James Bond film, GOLDFINGER. The minute she sang the first word over the opening credits..”GOLD-FINGAH!!”..... with that HUGE voice, you simply had to sit up and take notice!
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What was particularly fascinating to me as a songwriter, was her approach to THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I wrote it as an intimate expression of love and longing. Shirley sang it loud and proud...”I NEVER WANTED TO TOUCH A MAN THE WAY THAT I WANT TO TOUCH YOU !!!!!” Wow. It was almost scary. At least, if I were the man she was referring to, I might be a little cautious when she was around! Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing! But she is truly a GREAT pop singer, and I am so honored that she thought enough of my song to include it in a performance.
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I had another interesting experience with THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, and this was really a hoot. Years ago, at the very start of our career...probably in 1975 or 1976, Daryl and I were asked to perform on a telethon...I believe it was for Easter Seals, or something like that. When we arrived, we were ushered to the “Green Room”...a waiting room for all of the performers.
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When we walked in the door, I remember my attention immediately being drawn to a mass of powerful vibes coming from one of the couches. I suddenly realized it was CHARO! I had never seen her in person, but...oh my gosh...she had enough energy to run an entire city! Daryl and I are fairly quiet and reserved when we first enter a room full of strangers. In fact, Daryl is ALWAYS reserved, but I usually get my “bearings” within a few minutes, and begin to “meet and greet.”
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Well, there was no time for getting any “bearings” with Charo in the room. The minute she spotted us, she jumped up, ran over to us, and said, in her inimitable and unique accent.....”Oooooh...you are the Captain and Tennille! Ooooh....I love your song THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU!!!!’. Then she grabbed Daryl, pulled him over to the couch and down onto her lap, and began to sing to him “I never wanted to touch a man the way that I want to touch you!!!!! Coochie coochie coochie!!!......” Well, my jaw dropped to the floor at the look on Daryl’s face as she sang, and then I just started laughing! Charo is absolutely irresistable, and has NO inhibitions. You just have to love her!
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I don’t know if she ever sang TOUCH YOU in concert, but it is actually very lovely and sensuous in the spanish language...COMO QUIERO SENTIRTE. Daryl and I recorded our first album, LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, and a couple of other songs in Spanish, and some of them are just gorgeous in that language, especially TOUCH YOU and DO THAT TO ME ONE MORE TIME (AMAME UNA VEZ MAS). In fact, I often sang part of DO THAT in Spanish in concert.




As a songwriter, I have often felt “in a box” over the years. The songs I wrote for Captain and Tennille HAD to have a positive and/or romantic theme, or our fans would worry that something was wrong with our relationship. But I wanted to write for other artists as well as for C&T. I often had ideas for songs that had nothing to do with our own relationship, but reflected some of the things I saw my friends and others struggling with. We did record some of those songs.....DON’T FORGET ME, is a good example...a really lovely and plaintive song I wrote about a wife whose marriage was breaking up, but who hoped that her husband would always remember the good times they had together (“....and I know we’ve come to the parting of our ways, and I know we’ve said all the things that we could say, and I know I can put myself back together again if the fates will let me, but don’t forget me..”). I have no idea where that song idea came from...I just kind of put myself in another person’s shoes, and try to imagine how they would feel....very much like an actress does when she takes on a role totally unlike herself.
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My major songwriting frustration was that, whenever I would submit a song which I thought was a good one but felt wasn’t quite right for C&T, to another artist’s management or producer, the reaction was always..”Well, if it’s such a great song, why didn’t TONI record it?” Well, I didn’t record it because it wasn’t right for ME! I even thought of submitting songs under a pseudonym, but never did.
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Here’s another example....I wrote LOVE SURVIVES in honor of Howie Greenfield, the great pop lyricist who was Neil Sedaka’s writing partner for so many years. But the minute I finished the song, I realized it was aboslutely wrong for my voice and style. What I was hearing in my head as I wrote it was a great big, flexible, black gospel-tinged voice like Whitney Houston’s. I simply could not do the song justice. Daryl and I made a demo of the song, and that is what ended up on one of our collections... TWENTY YEARS OF ROMANCE, I believe it was. But I was NEVER happy with it, and neither was Daryl. Every time I tried to record a lead vocal for it, I would tense up and have a terrible time, because it just wasn’t right for my vocal style.
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We decided to send the demo to Clive Davis, in hopes he would think it a possibility for Whitney. We got a note back saying thank you very much but no interest. That was a blow, but...that’s show biz. At least he wrote back.
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I also wrote a song with Cher in mind.....THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME. I wrote it as a big rock tune about a girl who, being the straight-ahead and honest type, tells her prospective lover, “This is not the first time, and you are not the first man I’ve loved.” It was way too rock and roll for me, and wouldn’t have worked at all for C&T. We included it on our last album for Casablanca, KEEPING OUR LOVE WARM, but it was never right for us, and I never did send it to Cher.
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Howie Greenfield and I wrote one song together...a sad country tune called YOU NEVER STAYED AWAY THIS LONG. Really nice song, but Daryl and I never recorded that one either, and we never “shopped” the tune.
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I’m not the kind of songwriter who writes every day. I only write when I have a specific project, like the Christmas CD we just finished. I’ve written quite a few songs that I think are pretty darned good, but never saw the light of day...like THE DODGER STADIUM SONG. None of you have ever heard it, because we never released it on a recording, but I wrote it as a sing-along stadium song, to be sung by everybody in the stands (“A summer day in Dodger stadium, that’s where I wanna be.....”). Sort of a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” kind of song. We recorded a demo, bringing in everyone who was in the studio at the time to sing. It makes me laugh everytime I hear it!
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When we signed with Casablanca in 1979, it was known as a “disco” label. Even though Daryl and I weren’t “disco” at all, we decided to have some fun with it, and recorded an absolutely crazed disco version of HAPPY TOGETHER. I decided to try my hand at the genre, and came up with HOW CAN YOU BE SO COLD WHEN I’M SO HOT. It was all tongue in cheek and a lot of fun!
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Anyhow...some of you had written asking about a couple of the songs I mentioned. I hope I answered your questions.
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The holidays are well upon us, and I hope all of you are having a calm, peaceful and joyful holiday season so far, surrounded by dear friends and loving family. And remember, don’t buy too much stuff. Until next time, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart.
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December 3, 2006

THE FLU BUG BITES | THOUGHTS ON THE HOLIDAYS

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Daryl and I both suffered a bout of the flu this week, and neither of us is back up to par yet, so TONI’S TAKE may be a little shorter than usual this week.
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I started coming down with symptoms early this week, but I tried to brush them off. Surely I did not have the flu. I got a flu shot two weeks ago. I always slather my hands with Purell the minute I get back in the car after a visit to the supermarket. I am always careful not to touch my hands to my eyes, nose or mouth after touching a suspect surface. I haven’t had the flu...or even a cold...in years.
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Finally I took my temperature, and it was over 100 degrees. I had body aches, a headache, my stomach felt a bit queasy, and I had no appetite at all. When I don’t have an appetite, something is really wrong! That was it. I gave notice to Daryl that I was taking to my bed. And I did. At 11AM. Stayed there all day and all night, and most of the next day.
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Daryl is a brilliant man, and I love him dearly, but he is NOT very comforting or helpful when I am under the weather. He DID bring me some club soda over crushed ice when I asked him to, but, for the most part, I was pretty much on my own. I know him well enough to know that he was really afraid he would be next. And he was.
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A day or so later, he began to complain of the same symptoms, but I must confess that I didn’t believe him at first. Daryl is a hypochondriac, and he often proclaims that he is sick when he isn’t at all. He would have made a terrible medical student, since I understand they almost always believe they have every disease they study.
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Since I was dealing with my own discomfort, it took me a while to figure out that Daryl really WAS coming down with the flu. I took his temperature, and the thermometer registered over 100 degrees, so we just canceled plans and appointments, and hunkered down until we felt better. We are both feeling a bit more human today, thank goodness.
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I was thinking back, trying to figure out where I might have let down my “flu guard” when I suddenly remembered a trip to the bank last week. I was standing in line to make a deposit. It was around 4PM, and the bank was crowded. As I stood there, I noticed a little boy whose mother had her back turned to him as she dealt with the teller. The boy’s hands and face were smeared with a sticky, bright red candy goo....maybe Red Hots, I thought. I watched as he licked at the remains of the candy in his hands and smeared more red stuff on his mouth. He kept staring at me, so I smiled at him. He was a cute kid, about four years old, I’d guess.
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Then he held out his hands and showed me how sticky they were, so I fished around in my purse, found a clean Kleenex, and handed it to him. He wiped his hands and face with the tissue and HANDED IT BACK TO ME!!! I took it automatically. Once I had it in my hand, I immediately thought FLU FLU FLU!!!!! I felt like I was holding a piece of a radioactive isotope! I didn’t see a waste basket anywhere near, so I had to wait until I finally made my deposit. I then dropped the sticky red tissue in a container as I rushed out of the bank. I raced back to the car, where Daryl was waiting, grabbed the Purell, and covered my hands with almost the entire bottle. Too late. Ah, well. This will be one more virus to which I am now immune.




Some of you have asked how Daryl and I plan to spend Christmas this year. The short answer is that my sister, Louisa, and her husband, Bob, will be coming here to La Quinta to spend a quiet Christmas with us, and on one of the nights they are here, we’ll be joined by two of our dear, long-time friends for a VERY casual dinner here at the house. NO GIFTS ALLOWED...their warm and cheerful presence and good will are all they need to bring.

Some of you may be very surprised to know that, for the past many years, I have been a real “bah humbug” during the holidays. I get crankier and crankier every year as we are encouraged by television and radio commercials to “spend spend spend” and “buy buy buy!!!!” And the whole madness starts EARLIER every year. Before you know it, we’ll be hearing Christmas songs and seeing an onslaught of toy commercials BEFORE Halloween! This just makes me crazy.
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People go out and spend more money than they have, and end up owing huge amounts on their credit card bills, which they are lucky to pay off by the time the NEXT holiday season comes around. And “guilt” abounds. So and so sent me a Christmas card and I didn’t send HIM one. Uh oh, the gal down the street dropped off a gift for me and I didn’t get her one. Did I spend enough? Did I get the right thing? Maybe my friend will hate this sweater! STOP!!!!!!!
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I was telling Daryl last night, that our new Christmas CD expresses to ME how I would LIKE the holidays to be....not the way they ARE (or seem to have become). I think back to Christmases when I was a kid, and through a golden glow of memory, they seem like a scene from a Christmas card...decorating the tree, wrapping the gifts, putting out cookies for Santa to eat when he came down the chimney. Of course the Christmases I remember from long ago were probably not as perfect as I remember them, but I do remember them fondly. But I was a child, and Christmas is, and should be, a magical time for a child.
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Daryl and I never give each other gifts at Christmas. We never give each other gifts for birthdays or anniversaries either. To us, each day we have together on this earth is gift enough. And, besides, we buy each other things all year long whenever we come across something we think the other would like.
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To me, the holidays are a time to quietly enjoy the company of family and friends that you truly love, and love being around. If you have a relative you can’t stand, AVOID them at all costs! The world won’t come to an end if you don’t see them during the holidays, and you’ll feel SO much better.
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The holidays are also a time for quiet reflection on your life, and on the people you love. Do what makes you and others joyful and happy, and DON’T do the things that make you and others miserable. If you can, give a hand to people who are trying hard, but need a little help to get back on track. Try to keep a smile on your face as you go about your daily tasks. Be pleasant and courteous. Don’t criticize friends or family members. That just makes them defensive and upset, and you a crazy person because they aren’t behaving as you think they should. Try to be patient and understanding. Many people are not as fortunate as you are.
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However, each of us must celebrate the holidays in our own way. How you do it is up to you, and may you have a joyous and happy time this year. Take care of yourself and the ones you love.
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And don’t buy too much stuff.
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I’m starting to wilt a bit here, so I’ll close for this week. I just want to say once again, yes...I DO personally read all of your emails to TONI’S TAKE. I am always interested in what you have to say. However, if they are very long, I often have to just skim through them due to time constraints. Shorter is better.
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Until next time, try to stay calm and serene during the holidays, and Keep a “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart!
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November 26, 2006

“SECRET” UPDATE | DARYL COMES HOME | THE CAPTAIN AND.... TINY TIM??????

First of all, thank all of you so much for your wonderful emails about THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS! It is such a joy to me to read the comments many of you have posted on the new “Secret” GUESTBOOK Daryl has added to our site. It has been especially rewarding to me as a songwriter to find out how much you seem to like my original tunes. As I am writing them.... or, as they are “coming through me”...I am always hopeful they will “connect” with the people who hear them...that the listener will be touched, or laugh out loud, or just say to themselves, “I’ve felt exactly like that. She’s writing about ME.”
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The truth is, we are all connected in some way. The Where, Why or How we live our lives may be quite different, but basically, we are all members of the same family. Music is a gift that binds us all, thank goodness. Of course, we don’t all enjoy the same kinds of music, but when you find the song or the sound or the voice that speaks to you, it is heaven on earth!




Unfortunately, the BUSINESS part of the music business drives me absolutely crazy. Many of you have written to ask why THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is not yet available on Amazon.com. Good question! Becky, Daryl and I are just about to lose our minds over the situation. Hopefully the CD will appear there on Monday. Here is the explanation we have been offered so far.
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Custom Flix is owned by Amazon, and is the manufacturer we chose to produce the Christmas CD. They produce “on demand”, so we did not have to press up huge numbers of product and warehouse them somewhere until they were purchased. According to Custom Flix, the delay has been caused because their computer system was not upgraded to be compatible with Amazon.com (they neglected to tell us this) until November 8th (although we submitted it to them around October 19th). THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS was finally processed on November 9th, and we were told it would take no longer than two weeks to be up on Amazon. That day was Thanksgiving, when everyone was on vacation. So..... pardon me while I scream..... it SHOULD be available on Amazon.com by Monday the 27th. Hope that answers your questions. It BARELY answers mine!!!! However, I will say that Custom Flix has done a great job of shipping CDs out to everyone who has ordered them. We have had absolutely NO complaints. So feel free to order straight from them if you want to make sure you receive them in time to give as Christmas gifts.




Back to real life as we know it! Daryl arrived home last week in record time. He left Washoe Valley at 5:15AM, and at 12:30PM, Adelaide suddenly sat up, pricked up her ears, and seemed to be listening for something. Sure enough, when she and I and Hubble walked out the door, there Daryl was, getting out of our Toyota truck after the 550 mile drive. I would say he FLEW down here. “How fast did you go?” I asked as I gave him a big hug. “No faster than 90,” he said. Upon seeing the disapproving (and disbelieving) look on my face he added, “Well, there was hardly any traffic, and EVERYBODY was going that fast!” Sure. I’ve long ago given up trying to reason with Daryl about his tendency to “push” the speed limit. No wonder he hates riding with me. I’ll “push” the limit about 10 MPH, and that’s it. Anyhow, he arrived all in one piece, and I’LL do most of the driving now in my “Taurus” style...careful, defensive and boring.




Daryl and I heard our version of I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS several times on the radio this past Friday night, and had an absolute ball, laughing at what was going on. Here’s the story on how that came about.
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Daryl is a real “radio guy”. He loves to listen to the radio, and will often wake up in the wee small hours to listen to a favorite show. In the late 80’s, he began listening to the Art Bell Show, broadcasting out of Las Vegas. Art’s show began as a conservative/libertarian-style political talk show, but he later began to feature an oddball assortment of UFO sighters, conspiracy theorists, people predicting that California was going to fall into the ocean next week, “remote viewers”, and persons who claimed to have recently had a conversation with your long-dead Aunt Lizzie. Daryl was absolutely fascinated by all of this, and continued listening to Art as he began broadcasting nationwide out of Pahrump, Nevada and then on XM radio as COAST TO COAST AM, WITH ART BELL.
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As the years went by, Art seemed to take more and more time off, and various hosts substituted for him. One of these substitutes was a woman named Rollye James, and Daryl really enjoyed her style. Rollye, who is a very astute and intelligent woman with a strong point of view, now has her own call-in show, THE ROLLYE JAMES SHOW, on XM Radio (and on other stations) at Channel 165, 7PM to 10PM PST
. Daryl listens to her show faithfully, even though Rollye, who is an absolute MASTER of music trivia, jokingly refers to us as “The Captain and Toenail.” She makes up her own annual list (based on listener voting) of the WORST recordings ever made, and our version of MUSKRAT LOVE made #8 on the list this year.
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When we were recording HIPPOPOTAMUS last winter, I said to Daryl, “Rollye would absolutely HATE this.” So what does Daryl do? He sent her an MP3 file of HIPPOPOTAMUS this week, and she PLAYED it on her Friday night show, during which she features music and music trivia! She set it up as a contest for her listeners..... she played parts of HIPPOPOTAMUS several times throughout the show, and asked her viewers to try to guess who the singer was. Well, with each guess, I laughed so hard I could hardly catch my breath!
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Here are just some of the guesses from her listeners.....PAUL ANKA...NEIL SEDAKA...ETHEL MERMAN..DORIS DAY....CELINE DION...BRITNEY SPEARS...MADONNA....TINA TURNER....ROSEMARY CLOONEY....TINY TIM!!!!!!! Finally, a listener from Tennessee figured out that I was the HIPPO singer. In the meantime, Daryl and I had a wonderful couple of hours of laughter, which, as we all know, is GREAT for your health!
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By the way, we had a lovely email from Rollye later on, and there is a possibility we will be doing an interview with her on one of her Friday night 'Trivia' shows before Christmas. I’ll let you know if that happens.



On a final note for this week, I was very moved by your comments about last week’s TONI’S TAKE. I was heartened to learn how many of you have similar feelings about what is going on in Iraq, and about how much love and concern you feel for our troops and their families. Hold them especially close to your heart as we go through this holiday season. Until next time, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside your heart.
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November 19, 2006

DARYL’S HOMECOMING | THOUGHTS ON THE WAR

It is almost 5:30AM on Sunday morning, and still dark outside. Daryl called about fifteen minutes ago to say that he is on his way home. He has been in northern Nevada for more than a week, tying up the loose ends of our Nevada life, and supervising the move of all of our belongings out of our Washoe Valley house and into storage, where they will stay for at least a year and a half until we build our new home in Arizona.
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He told me that, after the movers left, he wandered through the now-empty house, where we spent almost fourteen years, and the sound of his footsteps echoed in the space, all signs of our presence there now packed up and gone for good.
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The dogs and I have missed Daryl terribly, especially our male Aussie, Hubble, who is a real “daddy’s dog.” He is going to jump for joy when Daryl walks in the door today. Adelaide, our female Australian Shpeherd, will be glad to see him, too, but she is really my girl. As long as I’m around, she’s happy. The cats, of course, don’t particularly miss anyone, as long as their bowls are kept full of food and water, and the litter boxes are kept clean. They just go about their business of sleeping, eating, draping themselves on the furniture, and staring out the window. They might notice that Daryl has returned...”Oh, he’s back. Was he gone?”
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Strangely enough, of all the things now packed away, I am thinking most about my Yamaha Grand Piano, which will be sitting in the warehouse, unplayed, for such a long time. I wrote THE CHRISTMAS STAR and BOOGIE BABY CHRISTMAS on that piano last fall, and spent hours and hours over the years just playing for pleasure, so grateful that my parents managed to find the money for my ten years of piano lessons. I feel an almost mystical attachment to my pianos, oddly enough. It is as though they contain part of my soul. Hard to explain.

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THOUGHTS ON THE WAR
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I am the oldest of four sisters, and I am a pretty calm and patient person...very, very slow to anger. I keep my feelings close to the vest...particularly my feelings about the state of the world. Mostly because I’m just not “quick on my feet” to defend my position, but also because I don’t like confrontation or incivility of any kind. It is not in my nature to stir up controversy. And, also, I always take into consideration that I might be wrong about things. I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I am suspicious of people who say they do. But I’m going to tell you about something that happened yesterday that made me so angry, I cannot keep silent anymore.
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Yesterday was another gorgeous day at our lovely home here in La Quinta, California. From the window in our master bedroom, I could see acres and acres of rolling emerald green grass, dotted with tall, stately date palms. A solitary, white Great Egret stood tall and graceful on the opposite side of the lake we can see from our backyard. The sun bathed all with a warm light. Everything was silent and peaceful.
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I stood at the bathroom mirror, preparing to head out to run some errands. Daryl was coming home tomorrow, and I had a lot to do before his arrival. My plan for the day was to drop some clothes off at the dry cleaners, stop by Home Depot to pick up some potting soil, go by the beauty supply store for a particular kind of makeup I like, and finish off by shopping at the new natural foods market which just opened not far from our house. There I would buy the organic cheese Daryl likes, and, for his first dinner at home, choose fresh vegetables from the bounteous display of fresh produce.
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I long ago stopped watching most news and opinion shows on television....too much yelling and screaming....too much emphasis on what I call “stupid stuff”, like TomKat’s wedding and OJ’s “confession” or Brittney and KFed’s divorce woes. I have been in the business long enough to become quite cynical about these “exciting” events..... it’s just more jockeying for press coverage...just more attempts to stay in front of the cameras and in the public eye!
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But I do occasionally like to watch, or “listen” to HGTV or The Food Network or Animal Planet as I put on my makeup and get ready to go out. Yesterday I happened to flip through the channels on the little TV in my bathroom, and came across a special on CNN called COMBAT HOSPITAL, I believe. It was a documentary about physicians, nurses and medics from the Colorado area, who were on a tour of duty in Iraq, caring for our wounded soldiers, and injured Iraqi citizens. I started to blow right past it, thinking, “No. I don’t want to watch this right now.” Just thinking about the war in Iraq makes me so upset, I usually avoid as much talk about it as I can, I’m very sorry to admit. But this time, I stopped the channel at CNN, and started to watch.
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As I watched wave after wave of our beautiful young men and women arrive at the combat hospital, writhing in pain, crying out with fear, I felt the supressed anger fire up inside me like a red hot rocket trying to explode out of my chest. So young. So very young. And I saw the medical personnel who treated each young soldier, or Iraqi child, with the same tenderness, care and expertise they would have brought to their own children, doing their very best to save them all...so young themselves....giving of themselves every single day and night to ease the agony and fear of these soldiers, and trying their damnedest to remain “professional” and keep their emotions in check as they saw the unspeakable things we do to each other in stupid and foolish wars.
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I have always considered myself a realist and a pragmatist. I try to look at all sides of an issue, and try to remain open to all opinions. However, when the rumblings of the possibility of a preemptive war in Iraq began, I felt a sinking feeling in my heart, and deep misgivings about what our country was about to undertake. When my nephew, Chris Cognac...now known to quite a few of you as THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE on The Food Network....was in the first Gulf War, I read everything I could find about the region, trying to understand what was going on there. When I realized that this current administration was determined to take us to war in Iraq, I thought back on all I had read at that time and said to Daryl, “Do they have any idea how difficult this is going to be? We will be stirring up a hornet’s nest of fundamentalist religions and ancient tribal rivalries and hatreds, and I hope we will be ready to deal with it.”
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But I kept my mouth shut, except with very close friends. And even with other long-time friends, who, I knew, approved of the war to “protect us from the terrorists” I didn’t discuss it, because, at that time, “If you don’t support the war, you don’t support the troops.” Of COURSE I supported the troops! Of COURSE, I love my country! And, as an American, I have the right, and even the responsibility, to question power. But I didn’t. I bit my tongue, and prayed that my forebodings were wrong...that the people who were running our country knew something I didn’t know, that made it absolutely necessary to go into Iraq, and that we would all be the better for it. And because I hate confrontation and making people feel “uncomfortable”, I only discussed my feelings with friends I knew agreed with me.
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But as I watched that special on CNN yesterday, I raged, “WHY haven’t we, the American people, been asked to sacrifice SOMETHING in this time of war? Why are we encouraged to continue our shopping and movies and golf games and cocktail parties like nothing horrible and cruel is going on in Iraq?????? I am old enough to faintly remember “sugar rationing” and oleo subsituting for butter during the latter part of World War II. My mom used to give me a package of the whitish “lard” stuff with the little yellow food coloring capsule in it. It was fun to knead the plastic package until the capsule broke and turned the white stuff yellow like butter. But my point is, Americans felt a part of the war effort then.
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And I thought about the privileged life I lead. Yes, I am so grateful for it, but at the same time I am dashing about, running “errands”, young men and women are being fed into the meatgrinder in Iraq...OUR war! I feel helpless. What can I do? If I could, I would cradle each young soldier in my arms, and try to give them whatever comfort I could. I would ask them to tell me about their home, about mom and dad, their best friends, their husbands or wives, their children, their pets, their favorite pastimes....I would try to let them know by my presence that they are loved and deeply cared for by all of us. I would try to give them just a little time to leave the horrors they have seen behind, and think of the things that bring them the most comfort and happiness.
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And, yes, I’ve thought about our music and my singing. I thought of singing for them, but most of them are so young, they have no idea who we are, and our music just wouldn’t relate to their generation at all. Each generation has its own voice, and we would seem like the tinny old sounds coming out of an ancient Victrola to them. So I don’t think I could help in that way. I’d just have to help as a regular person. But how????
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Yes, I know we simply cannot suddenly withdraw our troops from Iraq right now. I am a realist. We are there now. We are in a terrible, heart-wrenching quagmire, and it will take a wiser person than I to find a way out of it. I hope and pray that wise person comes forward, and finds a way to extricate our beautiful and courageous young children....and, yes, they are all OUR children..... from this debacle. Until that person comes and offers a solution, though, more of our precious young people will be maimed or die. This, as we go about our daily tasks...the market, the dry cleaners, the car wash....is the thought we have to live with every day until then. Keep them all in your hearts, and pray hard for a solution.
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November 5, 2006

THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS | TOUCH YOU | TEENSY’S JOURNEY | WEEK OFF

First of all..... WE DID IT!!!!! Thanks mostly to the perserverance and hard work of our friend and Personal Assistant, Becky Greenlaw, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is now available for purchase in time for the Holidays! We have been told by Amazon, that it will take about two weeks to get into their system, so it should be available there by the end of next week. However, you can purchase it right now from the manufacturer, Custom Flix, while we wait for Amazon to do their thing. Actually, you will get it a little bit sooner through Custom Flix. If you like what you hear, please tell your friends about it. Word of mouth is the only way we will be able to let people know the CD is available this year. Next year we will start our promotion campaign by July. Remember, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS will NOT be in stores this year. You will only be able to order it online. Daryl and I sincerely hope our music will be part of your holiday celebration this year and for many years to come!



Many people think that the song that started our career was LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. But actually, a song I wrote for Daryl around 1972, THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, is the song that started everything. Here’s the story.
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In early 1972, thanks to Daryl’s recommendation to Music Director, Carl Wilson, I was hired to play piano by THE BEACH BOYS (which made me the one and only Beach Girl). I was beginning to fall in love with Daryl at the time, and I sensed that he might be feeling the same about me. One day we found ourselves in New Jersey, where the Beach Boys had scheduled a concert. As usual, all of us band members were assigned to stay at a “reasonably priced hotel”, while the Boys stayed in somewhat fancier digs near the venue. Our hotel du jour happened to be located at a New Jersey airport. It seems to me we were in Passaic....however, you know how dicey my memory can be...and, frankly, when you are changing cities and venues almost every day, you get into “If This Is Tuesday It Must Be Peoria” mode.
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The hotel was part of a chain, similar to others all over the country.... ”businessman brown”, I used to call the rooms. Dull and fairly dingy, smelling of stale cigarette smoke, and usually furnished with a hard bed covered by a thin mustard and brown-colored floral bedspread, a brown naugahyde chair, a TV, and a bathroom of suspect cleanliness. Ah, the life of a traveling backup musician.
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Even in this uninspiring atmosphere, I couldn’t get thoughts of Daryl out of my mind. A lyric line started bouncing around in my head....”I never wanted to touch a man the way that I want to touch you.” And, yes, I meant “touch” emotionally. Soon words started flooding in, and I wrote them down on a piece of hotel stationery.
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But I needed a piano!!!! I write at the piano, and I always write alone. Even now I don’t want Daryl to listen as I compose new songs. I’m always sure he is thinking, “Now why did she use THAT chord, or THAT bass line?” I have to work it out to my own satisfaction before I play it for him. But the question was, where in the world would I find a decent piano in THIS place?
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I went to the hotel manager, and told him what I wanted. He said there was an upright piano located in one of the conference rooms, and I was welcome to play it. Well...I found the piano, and it was TOTALLY out of tune! But it was all I had. As usual, by that time, I had a melody “coming through”, along with a chord progression, and a bass line. I always consider the bass line to be the foundation of a song, and it is very important to me to get it right. However, there I sat, at the crummy piano, thinking of Daryl and my feelings for him, and out came the song..THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU.
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Later, I summoned up the nerve to play it for Daryl, although I didn’t tell him it was about my growing feelings for him. Remember, we didn’t know each other very well at that time. He complimented me on the song in his quiet way, and I knew from his reaction that the song was a good one. He mentioned that he heard hints of Brian Wilson’s bass lines in the composition, and he was certainly correct. Brian, whom Daryl and I both consider a musical genius, was very influential in my writing style.
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There is a lot more to tell you about TOUCH YOU, but my favorite story about it was that a radio station in St. Louis refused to add it to their playlist because they said it was too “suggestive” for their listeners. I got such a big kick out of that. Throughout our career, Daryl and I have alway been criticized for being too “square”, and here we were being too “suggestive”. I LOVED it!
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Actually, I think the most sensual song I ever wrote was DEEP IN THE DARK. I am particularly pleased with the lyrics for that song, which actually IS about a woman’s awakening to her own sensuality. Shocked? You shouldn’t be. There is absolutely no reason why the woman who wrote DEEP IN THE DARK and BUTTERSCOTCH CASTLE could not be the same person! Most women are complex and multi-faceted. I’m just fortunate enough to be able to write songs expressing that complexity.




And now I have to turn the subject to a sadder note. Monday night TEENSY, our beloved elderly bulldog, suffered what appeared to be a stroke of some kind. This, in addition to her blindness and arthritic pain, finally told me it was time to let her go. On Tuesday morning I took her to Valley Animal Hospital in Indio, CA, where, thanks to the kind and compassionate services of Dr. Robert Reed, she was released from the pain and confusion she was suffering, and crossed over The Rainbow Bridge. I stroked her big head, and whispered to her as she gently slipped away.
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Below you will find the note I sent Tuesday afternoon to all of our close friends and family who knew and loved Teensy. The dogs I mention in TEENSY’S JOURNEY.... Spooner (Artic Wolf/German Shepherd mix), Bodie (Aussie Shepherd/Husky mix), Broderick, Peaches and Elizabeth (all bulldogs)...are the dogs who have shared our lives in the past thirty years. Adelaide is one of two Australian Shepherds who live with us now.


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TEENSY’S JOURNEY


As Teensy crosses over the Rainbow Bridge, she is amazed at how wonderful she feels. Her back and elbows don’t hurt at all, and she can see everything with a vivid clarity....the lush, green grass, the lovely trees and flowers, the stream dancing along just beneath the bridge....and she feels the healing warmth of the gentle sun. She’s not quite sure where she is, but this is such a nice place.
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Soon she spots five dogs trotting towards her in a friendly manner. When they reach her, they sit in a welcoming semicircle, inviting her to join them. “Hi, Teensy,” the big, beautiful wolf dog says. "I’m Spooner, and this is Bodie." “How ya doing?” he says. “And this is Peaches,” Spooner continued, “and that one is Broderick, and that little bulldog over there is Elizabeth. She’s been here longer than any of us.”
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Peaches says, “I see they got another bulldog. I knew she always liked our kind best.” “I think she loved us all equally,” said Bodie. “Yes she certainly did,” pronounced Spooner, putting an end to THAT kind of talk.
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“How is she?” Bodie asked. “You mean Toni? She’s fine,” said Teensy. “She cried a lot this morning before she sent me here, but I think she’ll be okay.” “How about him?” says Spooner. “Daryl? He’s okay, too. You know, he always spoke highly of you, Spooner,” replied Teensy.
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“And what about that Adelaide?” said Bodie. “She used to drive me crazy when she was a puppy. As a matter of fact, she used to drive me crazy all the time.” “Well, she’s still kind of bossy, but I put her in her place until I got too old to do it,” replied Teensy. “She’s okay. Getting a little pudgy though, I might add. ”
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“Well,” says Spooner, “Adelaide’ll be here before too long. I’ll keep her in line. Besides, it is so wonderful here, none of us ever bothers with teasing each other. We just play and have fun. Come on. We’ll show you around. You’re going to love it here.”
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And off they trot, across the lush, beautiful field, towards a shady grove of trees ....not a care in the world. Teensy pauses for just a moment to look back at the bridge, then turns and follows the others.

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Note:
My next blog will appear on November 19th.
As most of you know, Daryl is our webmaster, and he will be up north next week overseeing the move from our northern Nevada house. Frankly, I don’t know how to upload my own column, so I’ll be taking a week off. Stay with me....I’ll be back.
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Until next time....Keep a “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart.
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October 29, 2006

DOING NOTHING | TEENSY | CHRISTMAS CD UPDATE


This is one of those days when I find myself absolutely NOT doing the things I SHOULD be doing. I should be putting some clothes in the washing machine. I should be doing some of the ironing that has piled up. I should be calling a couple of dear friends I haven’t actually TALKED to in a couple of weeks. Email is nice, but it is no substitute for hearing a special friend’s voice over the phone.... and a phone call is no substitute for actually BEING in the warmth of a good friend’s presence. But when you are separated by hundreds of miles, a phone call is the next best thing.
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I should be sorting through the boxes in the great room, and putting things away. The boxes have been sitting there since we arrived at our California desert home three weeks ago. But since the items in them are mostly files and desk stuff, and aren’t needed right away, I keep putting off dealing with them. Somehow I feel kind of guilty when I’m not constantly doing all the stuff I SHOULD do. What I’d really like to do right now is go out in the back yard and just sit there and look at the beautiful view. And listen for the sounds of birds. And just be quiet.
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Daryl is much better at “doing nothing” than I am. He will go outside, sit in his special chair, and “think”. Or, at least that is what he says he is doing. I think he is on to something. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a quiet moment to do nothing... to open up your mind and allow creative thoughts to wander around in there. Who knows? Out of the quiet time may come a new song, or a poem, or an idea for a painting, or whatever your way of expressing yourself might be. I’ve decided that, today, I am going to do nothing for at least a half hour. Right after I finish writing this blog.



Yesterday I took our elderly bulldog, Teensy, to the veterinarian for an evaluation of her condition. As you who are regular TONI’S TAKE readers know, Daryl and I cancelled our appearance on CELEBRITY DUETS, partly because of Teensy’s deteriorating condition. She is over ten years old now, and that is quite old for an English Bulldog. Their usual lifespan is 8-10 years. However, our first bulldog, Broderick, whom some of you will remember from our early album covers, and from his appearances on our television show, lived almost 12 years. Elizabeth, the smaller bulldog, who also appeared on our album covers and in our television show, died at age two from an epileptic siezure. After Elizabeth died, Peaches joined our family, and she lived just short of eleven years.
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Bulldogs will break your heart, as the saying goes. And they certainly do. But they give you so much joy and laughter while they are with you. Teensy is winding down her life now. When I took her to the vet yesterday, I was convinced I would not be bringing her home. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I drove, with Teensy snoozing and snoring (as bulldogs always do) in the back of the minivan. She sleeps most of the time now, and limps badly when she tries to get around. She has severe arthritis in both elbows and in the last vertebra of her spine... the one nearest her tail. She is now on three medications for arthritis pain.... Tramidol, Metacam (doggy Advil), and a glucosomine supplement. We’ve also taken her for accupuncture and chiropractic treaments to try to make her more comfortable.
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Teensy has lived with a serious eye condition called Dry Eye ever since we adopted her when she was 4 1/2 years old. Her eyes seem to be bothering her much more in the last few months. Since she joined our family, she has been on two different eye medications in both eyes twice a day. Adopting an English Bulldog is not for people on a tight budget!
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Lately, in addition to sleeping most of the time, she has lost some weight, and doesn’t seem to want to play as much as she used to. Tug o’ War was her favorite game, and woe to the person who tried to take away any stuffy she had decided was hers. Lately, she has lost her zest for tugs or stuffies. Over the years, when the time came, I have held our dogs or cats in my arms, and told them I loved them as the vet administered the injection that eased their pain, and started their journey over the Rainbow Bridge. That is so hard, but I have always made a silent promise to any animal who joins our family....you will never suffer needlessly, and you will never lose your dignity while you are in my care. When the time comes to make the hard decision to let you go, I will make that decision, and help you cross over without pain or fear.
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When he was told by someone that dogs don’t go to heaven, the great Humorist, Will Rogers, famously said, “If dogs don’t go to heaven, when I die I want to go where they are.” Somehow I know that I will see Broderick and Elizabeth and Peaches, Spooner and Bodie, Sasha and George and Grayson, and all the animals we have loved, when my time comes to leave this world.
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Teensy got a reprieve from the vet. After looking her over thoroughly, he said, “I don’t think Teensy is ready to go just yet.” He suggested a weekly injection of liquid Glucosomine for the next five to six weeks, saying that glucomsomine in that form is much more effective. He also prescribed another eyedrop to add to Tensy’s collection. So, “Nurse” Toni will add that to Teensy’s list of meds, and we’ll see how she does. In the meantime, she is snoozing away by the sofa, living in her doggie dreamtime. Bless her big bulldog heart.




Here’s an update on THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. Daryl and I approved the test pressing this past Tuesday. The package looks BEAUTIFUL!!!!! We are so pleased with the package design by Rich Di Silvio. It is clean, simple, elegant. And if you look really hard, you will see a couple of bulldog faces peering out from the background. You will also see a hippopotamus in a Santa hat! The CD itself sounds spectacular, thanks to the excellent mastering job by the legendary Pete Papageorges at Capitol Mastering.
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Now we have to wait for Amazon to get the CD into its system. We have been told that can take anywhere from one to two weeks. It should be available for purchase no later than November 7th. We will let you know the exact date as soon as we know it!
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And now, I’m going to go out to the backyard and do nothing. Until next week.... Keep a “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart!
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October 22, 2006

CASPER PREMIERE | HOWIE GREENFIELD - ”LOVE SURVIVES”


Friday night Daryl and I watched the premiere of CASPER’S SCARE SCHOOL on the CARTOON NETWORK. Since Daryl and I don’t have children, we have never had occasion to watch the Cartoon Network before. I now understand why so many children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and why they pester their parents to buy them sugary snacks, video games and assorted other toys. My God.... what a barrage of commercials and other nonsense!!!! I tried deperately to concentrate on CASPER, but my brain was so wired each time a break ended, it was hard for me to get back into the sweet little ghost’s world.
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We stuck with it to the end, in spite of all the craziness. We both thought the animation, the art direction, and the voices were wonderful..... such beautiful colors, and creative characters. I particularly liked SNATCH, the Vampire Kid.... he was such a brat, and he got his comeuppance in the end. The CASPER character was sweet as he ever was, and ALDER and DASH (two heads on one body), voiced by Jim Belushi and Bob Saget, were (was?) appropriately silly and bumbling bad guys.
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It was really a hoot to watch our voices come out of the character, THE ANKLE. We don’t appear until close to the end, when CASPER arrives in THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOWS (which isn’t what you might think it is), but I’m happy to say that we are the character that helps CASPER find his way back to love and friendship.
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Daryl was really disappointed that his “rap” in the middle of the song, WHY DOES LOVE MAKE ME FEEL SO GOOD, didn’t make the cut. So was I, because Daryl’s “rap” style has to be heard to be believed. All of the songs were shortened in the CARTOON NETWORK showing, and we are hoping that is because they had to edit the film to fit into the TV time slot (got to have time for all the COMMERCIALS!!!!). The beautiful and timely song, WORLD WITHOUT FEAR, was run in the last half of the credits, and shortened by half in the TV version.
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Classic Media sent us a “screener” DVD of the show, and we watched it later. Without all the interruptions, the show was very funny and charming, and much of the music was restored. WORLD WITHOUT FEAR was played in its entire length over the credits, which ran by much more slowly. I understand that the CASPER’S SCARE SCHOOL DVD will be available for purchase this spring. I hope you will add it to your collection!
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By the way, if you’d like to hear both of the songs we performed in the film in their entirety, go to casperscareschool.com, click on Movie Music, and then click on Song One and Song Two. Let us know what you think of Daryl’s rap style! Email us at: "Dear Captain & Tennille.."
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We did over thirty phone inerviews last week to promote CASPER. Several interviewers asked us about Neil Sedaka, noting that we have recorded so many of his songs, including LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. Neil is indeed one of America’s finest pop songwriters, and many of his songs suited us perfectly. Neil is a star in his own right, with a distinctive voice, and an irrepressible stage presence. But few people know very much about Neil’s writing partner for many years, Howard “Howie” Greenfield. Daryl and I considered Howie, and his long-time life partner, Tory Damon, to be two of our dearest friends.
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Neil and Howie started writing together when they were just teenagers. They became two of the great pop songwriters among the famous Brill building songwriters in New York City in the late 50s and early 60s. Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich were some of the terrific writers of the Brill Building era. I highly recommend a great book called ALWAYS MAGIC IN THE AIR, written by Ken Emerson, and published by Viking, which is absolutely fascinating reading, and really helps you to understand the pop music culture of those days.
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But right now I want to talk about one of the kindest, dearest men Daryl and I ever knew....Howie Greenfield. Howie wrote the lyrics for the song that started our career. LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER started climbing the charts shortly after it was released by A&M Records in November of 1974. It was incredibly exciting to us as, one by one, radio stations began to add it to their playlists. One day in late 1974, when we happened to be at the A&M Records lot, we were told we had a call from Howard Greenfield. When I picked up the phone, a cheerful, upbeat voice with a New York accent said, “Toni, this is Howard Greenfield. I just heard your recording of the song I wrote with Neil Sedaka, and I LOVE it!!!! I’d love to meet you and the Captain.”
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That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Howie and his longtime partner, Tory Damon, lived in a beautiful home in Beverly Hills. Daryl and I visited them there often over the years, and came to love them both. Howie was one of those rare people who made a lot of money as a songwriter, but the money was the last thing he cared about. He loved music, good friends, and life. He was one of the most caring people I have ever known, and I miss him to this day.
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By the early 80s, Daryl and I had decided to move to northern Nevada. The LA area was just too “show-bizzy” for us, and we wanted to live a more “regular” life. We had fallen in love with Lake Tahoe after performing there, so we bought some property on the east shore, and started building a beautiful log home in the Glenbrook area. Just before we were set to leave LA, Howie and Tory invited over for a last get-together. While we were there, Tory quietly told us he had “leukemia”. That was the very early days of the AIDS epidemic. Tory didn’t say the word “AIDS”, but we knew what he meant. In those days, it was almost certainly a death sentence. We were devastated. He assured us that he would be “fine”, and never mentioned it again.
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Shortly after Daryl and I moved to Lake Tahoe in 1984, Tory gave us a call to say that Howie had also been diagnosed with AIDS, the very thing we had feared most. I couldn’t stop thinking about Howie...... what a wonderful man he was.... how many terrific songs he had written.... how much I would miss him.
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As I usually do when I need time to gather my thoughts, I called the dogs to join me, and walked along the trail up a quiet wooded canyon near our house. As I walked, I thought about Howie, and what a world without him would be like for us and for Tory, and for all the people who loved him. I was comforted by the thought that Howie’s wonderful songs would live after him. The phrase, “Love survives in a song and a memory” came to me, and by the time I returned home, I had the entire lyric in my head. I sat down at the piano, and wrote out the melody I was hearing, and the song became LOVE SURVIVES. I am reprinting the lyrics below as a tribute to Howie and his songs.

LOVE SURVIVES
by Toni Tennille

Life was always easy for me
just because I knew that you were there
And even though the world fell down around me
I knew you would always care
And even though I know you have to go
I’m strong enough to make it just because you loved me so

Love survives in a song and a memory
Love survives though everything else has gone
In the darkest night there will always be a light
Because Love, Love will survive


You’ll always be a living part of me
The love we shared together
Is the love that sets me free

And I know you’re with me now and always will be
The greatest love I ever knew was you and me

c1985 Moonlight and Magnolias



Tory lived for a couple of years after he was diagnosed. The disease ravaged Howie in six months. They died within a week of each other. Love..... and Howie’s music.... survives.
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Until next week, Keep a “Song of Joy” Inside Your heart.
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October 15, 2006

LAST NEVADA DAY | THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS | CASPER | THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE


Here is how our last day at our northern Nevada home unfolded. Daryl and I had plans to pack both cars in a leisurely and relaxed manner, vowing not to get rattled and scream at each other as we prepared to leave. We were going to take our time, breathe deeply to keep stress at bay, and have a lovely final day at our beautiful home. We had arranged for the house and the carpets to be cleaned and readied for showing to prospective buyers a few days after we left, so I wasn’t too concerned about the house being perfectly clean before we headed south. Those of you who live with pets know it is very hard to keep a house spotless with six animals in residence.
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HOWEVER.....two days before our scheduled early morning departure, we got a call from our friend and realtor, Carole, saying she had some clients who were very anxious to see the house, and they wanted to see it right away..... just a couple of hours after we left. She knew them well, and felt the house would be perfect for them.
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That was it! My blood pressure rose, my anxiety level reached a fever pitch.... I had to clean like a crazy woman, because I simply couldn’t STAND for a prospective buyer to see our much-less- than-spotless house! The clients had been told that the house wasn’t ready for viewing, but STILL....... so much for a relaxed last day. I grabbed broom, hand vacuum, regular vacuum, mop, cleaning supplies, sponges, paper towels, and went at the house like a madwoman. NOBODY was going to see cat hair on the furniture and doggy footprints all over the floor in MY house. I couldn’t do much about the smudgey spots on the library rug where our elderly bulldog liked to sleep because my steam cleaner broke, but I would do the best I could in the short time I had!
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By late afternoon the skies outside opened up with a rare autumn thunderstorm, flinging giant bucketsful of pea-sized hail and wildly blowing rain to the ground, and scaring the heck out of our poor male Australian Shepherd, who is terrified of thunder, and cowered in the interior guest bathroom until it all finally stopped a couple of hours later.
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In the meantime, I was using the handvac in my closet, bending down to get the cat litter off the closet floor and talking to Daryl about not forgetting to pack something, when I raised up to tackle another area, and WHACK!!!! The crown of my head slammed into the sharp corner of the overhanging shelf, and blood burst from my head, all over my hair, and started dripping on the closet floor (Damn it! More cleaning). Daryl yelled, “You’ve got to go to the emergency room...you need stitches...you might have a concussion!!!”
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I had the handvac in my right hand, and my left hand, now covered with blood, was pressed on the wound as I tried to determine how bad it was. I felt a big bump rising in my scalp as Daryl continued to insist I would die if I didn’t go to the hospital right away. “I CAN’T go to the hospital,” I thought, “I look like hell... and I’m not through CLEANING!” Knowing that head wounds, even the smallest ones, can be very bloody, I put down the hand vac, grabbed a towel, soaked it in cold water from the tap, and pressed it against the wound for couple of minutes, after which the bleeding mostly stopped. And I STILL had much more cleaning to do.
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Well...to make a long story short, everything worked out fine. Although my head was sore for a few days, we managed to get Daryl off to southern California at dawn the next morning with the three cats, while I remained behind a bit longer to dispose of the cat litter boxes and do a little last-minute straightening up. Then I loaded the three dogs in the minivan, and followed Daryl down to southern California. The prospective clients who went through our house a couple of hours after we left that day, made us an offer a couple of days later, and we accepted it. I guess they thought the house was clean enough!!!!
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It has taken me almost a week to calm down!



Now...some great news!!!! I am thrilled to tell you that our Christmas CD, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS, will be available for purchase from Amazon.com in early November! You will be able to buy it only at Amazon this year, since we simply did not have time to make a distribution deal to get it into stores. But, at least, some of you will be able to enjoy it this Christmas.
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It is really too late to do any promotion to let people know it is available, but you can help by telling the people on your email list about it, and asking them to spread the word. This year the only way people will know THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is available will be by word of mouth.... a true grassroots effort! I usually don’t go around talking about how wonderful I think something of ours is, but I really DO think this CD is one of the very best things we have ever done together. I hope you agree!! Remember, it won’t be available at Amazon.com until early November.




Last year Daryl and I did the voices for a two-headed character for an animated film called CASPER’S SCARE SCHOOL. The film is based on the beloved character of “Casper the Friendly Ghost.” We also performed two original songs for the film..... WHY DOES LOVE MAKE ME FEEL SO GOOD and WORLD WITHOUT FEAR. Both songs were written by Magnus Fiennes, younger brother of British actor, Ralph Fiennes. Other CASPER characters were voiced by Jim Belushi, Bob Saget, Phyllis Diller, and Dan Castellaneta (of “The Simpsons”). After we recorded our parts, we pretty much forgot about it, because the computer animation and editing is done AFTER the voices are recorded, and it is a very slow, painstaking process. We were told they were trying to get it ready by Halloween, but it would be a close call.

Well, we just found out that CASPER’S SCARE SCHOOL will premiere on the CARTOON NETWORK on October 20, from 7PM to 9PM. There will be several more airings through Halloween. When you watch the film, don’t look for us until about an hour into the story. Our character is called the ANKLE (Aunt Belle and Uncle Murray). We are two heads on one body (and, yes, Daryl’s head wears a Captain’s hat). We are the “good” scary characters who help Casper understand that love and friendship are the right way to go! We haven’t seen the film yet. In fact, we’ll be seeing it for the first time when you do. I can’t wait to see how we “look” in animated form! Let us know what you think of it. I must say, though, give a special listen to the song, WORLD WITHOUT FEAR. It is absolutely beautiful, and a world without fear is something we all need right now.




And here’s one MORE show I hope you will watch..... my nephew (my sister Louisa’s son), Chris Cognac, who is a detective with the Hawthorne, California Police Department AND a food critic, will be starring in his own show, THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE, on the FOOD NETWORK. The show premieres October 17th at 10:30PM - PDT. Don’t miss it! Chris is a natural, and you will love him. It must be those Tennille genes!!!!
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That’s the news for now. I hope you will enjoy THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS, CASPER’S SCARE SCHOOL and THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE. Until next time, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart!
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October 9, 2006

DELAYED COLUMN | MATT CATINGUB

As most of you who are regular readers know, Daryl and I have been very, very stressed and busy this week. I mentioned in my last column that we would be moving to our southern California home and putting our northern Nevada home on the market this past weekend. I had hoped to write a column for you today (Monday), but, frankly, I am just too overwhelmed by the move to concentrate right now. I am so grateful to my readers, and hope you will bear with me until this coming Sunday. I’ll have a new column for you then.
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Just a quick note. This August, I had the odd, and very interesting experience of “covering” my own song. Matt Catingub...a brilliant musician and good friend of mine and Daryl’s..is putting together an album with his new music ensemble, The Matt Catingub Orchestra of Hawaii. He called a few months ago, and said he had an idea for an arrangement of my song, THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, and wanted me to sing it on the new CD. His thought was to arrange it in a “soft jazz” bossa nova style. I loved the idea, and asked him to send me a MP3 File of his arrangement. Daryl and I listened to it, and agreed that it was a wonderful arrangement, and I agreed to do it.
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We recorded it in Reno this past August, and it was really fun for me, since I had to “re-think” my stylistic approach to the song because Matt’s arrangement was so different from the Captain and Tennille original. I haven’t heard the final mix, but I loved what I heard in the studio. Go to Matt’s site, and read all about the new CD, and the Hawaii Romantic Music festival that Matt is putting together. Maybe we should all make plane reservations right now to attend! I believe it is scheduled for this coming spring on Oahu. Matt is the Pops Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, and is absolutely beloved in the Islands. I’m sure his CD and festival will be a huge success.
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I promise to write next Sunday. Until then, Keep a “song of Joy” Inside Your Heart
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October 1, 2006

HOUSE OF LIGHT | NEVADA ARTS | 1975 GRAMMY AWARD

Six days from today, we will lock the door of this very special house, and leave Nevada. We’ll return only to move out of the house once it has been sold. We only hope that whoever lives here after us will experience the love and happiness that we have enjoyed here for almost 14 years. When we first moved in, Daryl and I called it our “house of light”, because we had SO many windows, there was hardly any wall space for paintings and photographs. We always considered the beauty that Nature provided us through every window our “art”. We love this house so much, we will be building almost the EXACT house in Arizona!
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It has been said that moving is one of life’s great stresses, right up there with divorce and life-threatening illness, and I am certainly starting to feel just a bit stressed as our last few days here fly by. Daryl and I have moved several times during our life together.... my mother used to joke that we never stayed in any home more than seven years... and that is mostly true. However, we have been in this house almost fourteen years, and I am feeling the anxiety creeping up on me as moving day draws near. We are spending these last days in northern Nevada in a flurry of activity.... meeting with the realtors, doing some final packing, trying to get the house fairly clean before the REAL housecleaners do their job after we leave, picking up medical records...ours and the pets.... and spending time with close friends.

Many years ago, then Governor of Nevada, Bob Miller, appointed me Ambassador to the Arts for the State of Nevada, and I have held that position ever since. I have always been proud to be able to tell people around the country that The Arts, in all forms, thrive in Nevada. I know that when most people think of Nevada, they think of cowboys and casinos, and we DO have those. But Nevada is also home to poets, writers, musicians, dancers, sculptors, painters and creative people of all kinds. In fact, some of our cowboys are poets! Nevadans wholeheartedly embrace and support their artists, and the beauty of Nevada provides endless inspiration. My job as Arts Ambassador was to tell the world about the Arts in Nevada, and to regularly beg the legislature for more money for the Arts!!!! I am very proud to have been a Nevadan for the past 22 years.
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As we were doing a bit more packing this morning, Daryl came into the kitchen, laid a large scrapbook on the counter and said, “Look at this. I didn’t even know we HAD this.” What he had found, buried away in the guest room closet, was a large scrapbook, full of publicity photos of us from 1974 to about the early ‘80s (I can tell by my hair styles). There were also all sorts of newspaper articles stuffed between the pages. The photographs were so beautifully arranged in the scrapbook, I knew WE didn’t put it together. Daryl and I just throw photos and articles in boxes, vowing to organize them later, and, of course, we never do. Anyhow, this book was obviously put together and sent to us by a fan, but there was no name anywhere, so we’ll just have to be grateful for whoever sent it. It was fun to go through it, and have our memories jogged by the photos and articles.

In the scrapbook we found an old 1975 newspaper article from the LA Times...”CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE WIN GRAMMY AWARD.” Wow. I will never forget that night at the Grammies. We were so new to “show biz,” so naive, and just so thrilled to be writing and recording the music we loved, that we didn’t really understand the pop music world (or our place in it) at the time. I remember that I was so excited to be nominated for Record of the Year, I went right out and found a designer to make a special gown for me to wear to the awards show....the very first original design I ever wore. I told the designer (and I CAN’T remember his name, darn it) that I wanted a floor-length, yellow gown. He came up with a lovely design in a soft yellow silk chiffon, with crystal beading on the bodice. I really FELT like a star when I wore it! Daryl, of course, wore a tux. He HATES to wear tuxes, but he did look quite handsome.
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As we sat in the audience, I was a nervous wreck, and the entire evening felt like a dream. Big recording stars from that era were seated all around us, and paraded across the stage, one by one, to present or accept their awards. Remember, I wasn’t USED to being around so many famous people, and it was all very overwhelming. LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER was also up for SONG OF THE YEAR and we were pulling for Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield, who wrote it, to win, but RHINESTONE COWBOY took the songwriting award.
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Finally, the moment came. Joan Baez and Stevie Wonder came to the podium to announce the 1975 RECORD OF THE YEAR winner. Stevie held the envelope in his hand. Inside the envelope was the card announcing the winner, written in Braille so Stevie (who is blind, for those of you who don’t know) could read it. “CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE, LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER! ” he announced, and I just about fainted. I felt like I was floating just above the floor as Daryl and I walked up to the stage. The sound of the applause seemed to come from very, very far away. I realize now that I was probably in a state of shock. Stevie was smiling broadly, and Joan held the Grammy out to us as we approached. I have never told anyone this, but for all these years, I am still convinced that Joan was very disdainful of our winning the award that night. She had what appeared to me to be a forced smile on her face as she handed us the Grammy and murmered a perfunctory, “Congratulations,” without looking me in the eye. And for just an instant, for the very first time, I understood that, in the opinion of many of the more “hip” elements of the music business, we were not deserving of the honor. But I was determined not to have this remarkable milestone in our career hurt by my own negative thoughts, so I just blocked them from my mind and continued “floating” onto the stage where we gratefully acknowledged the applause.
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Daryl and I have always understood that we are considered unhip and square by many people, and that we have been the butt of many jokes over the years....some of them very funny (and much enjoyed by the two of us), but others quite cruel. Unfortunately, that just comes with the territory. You simply cannot please everyone’s musical taste. I have just always wished I had “thicker skin” so I could just let hurtful things slide, but I’m not very good at it. That’s probably why I tend to keep a “low profile” and stay out of the spotlight most of the time. But my intimation that night was reinforced by the fact that our own record company, A&M, was so sure we would NOT win, they had not invited us to attend their after-Grammy party. However, once we won the Grammy, we were issued an invitation right away, and were whisked off to the gathering.

Looking back, I tend to think we made music industry people uncomfortable in those days because we weren’t into drugs, which were rampant at almost every music industry social gathering. Our lack of interest in recreational drugs was NOT because we are “square” or looked down on people who used them. In my case, my father, Frank, struggled with alcoholism all of his life, and I and my three sisters have been very careful to try not to overindulge in either alcohol or drugs. We know, because of daddy’s problem, we could be vulnerable to alcoholism ourselves. And besides, when I go out on stage, or go into a studio to record, I want to be totally in touch with reality. That’s what works for me, and always will.
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Just a note about next week’s TONI’S TAKE. I usually write my column on Friday or Saturday, and Daryl uploads it to the site on Sunday. We will be making the “big move” this coming Saturday and unpacking everything on Sunday, so I may be a day late with my next TONI’S TAKE. I appreciate my readers so much, and want to make sure I have something new for you to read each week. Just bear with me for a while. I’ll be writing to you next time from sunny Southern California! And in the meantime.... Keep A “Song of Joy” inside your heart!
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September 24, 2006

THE SURGEON AND THE SINGER...A GLIMPSE INTO ANOTHER WORLD

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The patient lay, fully anesthetized, on the table in the brightly lit operating room. From my vantage point, just behind the patient’s head, I watched as the surgeon, with skill and confidence, made the first incision... a long slice from the top of the sternum to the bottom of the rib cage. For the next 2 1/2 hours, this patient’s life and his heart, literally, would be in Dr. Todd Chapman’s hands.
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How in the world would Toni Tennille, a pop singer, find herself in that operating room? And NOT on the table, thank God! I’ll tell you the story now.
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A few years ago, Carole, one of my closest friends, asked me if I would do her a favor. Her Aunt “Rose” needed a heart valve replacement. “Rose” and her husband, “Don” (not their real names) were quiet and rather reserved people in their late 70s. Carole had to be out of town when “Rose” and “Don” met with the surgeon to discuss the procedure, and Carole was afraid they would not ask all the questions they should ask, and, consequently, wouldn’t be well informed and emotionally prepared for the surgery. She asked me if I would go with them to make sure they got all the information they needed. “Of course”, I agreed. “Rose” and “Don” are two of my very favorite people.
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With pen and notepad in hand, I met them at the office of Cardiac Surgeon, Todd Chapman. “Don” and “Rose” were extremely nervous, but Dr. Chapman instantly set them at ease with his calm, relaxed manner. He was a tall, slender, attractive man, with a warm, easy smile. I liked him right away. I had prepared a list of questions for Dr. Chapman on “Rose’s” behalf, and he answered every one patiently and clearly. Later, I printed out my notes from the consultation and gave them to “Rose” and “Don”. A week or so after that, I sat in the hospital waiting room with “Don” while Dr. Chapman successfully replaced “Rose’s” defective aortic valve.
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Daryl and I became friends with Todd and his lovely artist wife, Peggy, and have enjoyed their company on many occasions. Recently, he became Chief of Cardiac Surgery at the beautiful new Carson-Tahoe Medical Center near our home. He took me and Daryl on a tour through the hospital just before it opened for business, pointing with pride to the cardiac operating rooms set up to his specifications. The hospital itself was open, airy, light, and filled with art from local Nevada artists. We were very impressed.
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A few weeks ago, Todd called and asked if I would like to observe a heart valve replacement surgery. We had talked about it in the past, and here was my opportunity. I told him I would absolutely LOVE to! He also asked if Daryl would like to attend. You can guess Daryl’s answer. There would be NO Captain in surgery! Todd told me to be at the hospital at 7:30AM, and he would meet me at the front desk. I wasn’t exactly sure where I would be during the surgery, but I kind of thought I would be in some sort of “observation room”, where I would watch the proceedings on a video monitor.
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Todd took me back to the nurses’ lounge, and introduced me to Julie Hansen, his private scrub nurse, and Lisa Hoffman, his nurse practitioner. “Julie and Lisa,” he said, “take Toni back to the locker room and get her changed into scrubs, and I’ll see you out here in a few minutes.” As I donned the scrubs, hair covering, and booties, it became clear to me that I was NOT going to be in some “observation room”. I was going to be right there in the operating room. “Have you had breakfast?” Dr. Chapman asked when I came out of the locker room. “Yes,” I replied. “Good. It’s important to have breakfast so you won’t feel faint. But if you do, be sure to tell us so we can make sure you sit down instead of fall down.”
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Far from feeling faint or queasy, I was really thrilled at the prospect of what I was about to see. I have always understood that medicine is not just science, but also art. The surgeon, for example, must have great technical skill, but also must make judgements based on intuition and experience. In a way, a great surgeon is like a fine musician.....years of study, practice and experience are necessary to make the performance seem effortless. But no matter how skilled the musician may be, if he doesn’t have heart and soul to bring to his performance, he will fail to “connect” with the listener. In the case of the physician, HE may fail to save his patient’s life.
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After donning a surgical mask and eye shield, I entered the operating room with Dr. Chapman, Lisa and Julie. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Mark Janes, already had the patient, a fifty-nine year old man, completely anesthetized. The Perfusionist (heart/Lung machine operator), Steve McDowell, was going over his equipment, making sure everything was working properly. Todd suggested that I stand at the head of the patient, near Dr. Janes. The patient’s lower body and his head were covered with sterile drapes. The drape over his head was held off his face by a lightweight frame. Because I am tall, I had a perfect view of the patient’s chest over the drape.
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I was completely fascinated and in awe of what I experienced that morning. The atmosphere in the room was calm, relaxed and confident. Dr. Chapman and his staff chatted about their kids, and what was going on in their daily lives as they worked. Todd told me to feel free to ask any questions I might have during the procedure.
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The patient was a fifty-nine year old man, who appeared to be carrying about thirty pounds too many on his six foot frame. Evidently, he had consulted a cardiologist after experiencing a fainting spell. He was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis, which means that his aortic valve didn’t open fully. His heart (which, as you know, is a muscle) had been working very, very hard to try to force blood through an opening the size of a dime. The normal aortic valve opening is the size of a quarter.
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I will tell you now that the surgery was a complete success, and the patient is now home and doing very well. Of course, I didn’t totally understand all the medical details of what I saw during the surgery, but I can give you some of my impressions.
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Yes, the surgeon does use a “power saw” to cut through the sternum. It sounds like any other saw you would find in a woodshop. Once the sternum is sawed through lengthwise, the rib cage is separated by stainless steel “spreaders”, slowly and in stages, to give the body time to adapt.
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Once Dr. Chapman had cut through the pericardium (the membrane surrounding the heart muscle), there was the patient’s heart, beating in the open cavity. It was an incredible and sobering sight. The first thing I noticed was that this heart had large patches of yellowish tissue attached to it. When I asked Dr. Chapman about it, he said it was fat....just like you would see on a piece of meat. The heart is NOT supposed to have fat on it.....a good lesson to all of us to try to keep our weight in normal range, and cut back on the Big Macs. Dr. Chapman remarked to his staff that the man’s heart was much larger than it should be. When I asked why, he said it was probably due to how forcefully it had to beat in order to push the blood through the small opening in the aortic valve.
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After the patient’s heart had been bypassed (an incredibly complex and delicate procedure), and the heart/lung machine was in effect, the heart lay still....no longer beating. Dr. Chapman went to work right away, removing the defective valve, measuring the opening for the correct size mechanical valve, and suturing the new valve into place. Before he began to remove the valve, he pointed it out to me. ”It looks like a Mercedes emblem,” he said. And sure enough, it did. Three tiny flaps, triangular in shape, coming together in a point at the center. “Look at this,“ he said, as he pointed out what appeared to be many white “bumps” attached to the tissue of the valve....on the valve itself, and behind it.
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“What are those?” I asked. “Calcium deposits, “ he replied. “No wonder he was having such a hard time.” After the surgery, circulating nurse, Laurie Van Epps, brought over a piece of the valve in a plastic baggy. “Feel this,” she said. “You won’t believe it.” Through the baggy, I felt the valve with the calcium deposits attached. It felt like it was covered with ROCKS. How in the world this man’s heart functioned at all was beyond me!
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As the surgery proceeded, I was struck by the delicate chemical balance that needed to be maintained in the patient. The anesthesiologist, the perfusionist, and the surgeon worked seamlessly together, monitoring and adjusting to even the slightest changes in the patient’s chemistry and vital signs. The blood and body chemistry change rapidly under such stressful circumstances, and all three men had to be constantly aware of the patient’s condition and be in perfect tune with each other. There was a slightly tense time as the repaired heart was being taken off the heart/lung machine. Evidently the patient’s heart was so used to having to pump overly hard, the team had to be extremely careful not to allow the blood to return to the heart too fast, or it might harm the delicate sutures.
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After Dr. Chapman had completed the valve replacement, and the patient’s heart was once again beating normally, he and his nurses watched the heart for ten full minutes to make sure there were no leaks, and that the heart was behaving as it should. Then Dr. Chapman completed the complicated procedure, leaving the final closure of the wound to Lisa, and to Julie, who has worked with him for fifteen years. Todd and Julie are so in tune with each other, they rarely have to speak. “Julie and Lisa will close this wound with such beautiful stitches, this guy will end up with just a thin, white line where we made the incision,” Dr. Chapman said with pride.
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I will always be grateful to Todd for allowing me to have a glimpse into his world. I am so grateful that there are people who dedicate their skill and their lives to the healing arts to the benefit of all of us. My sister, Jane, is a nurse, specializing in Hospice Care, and I cannot tell you how much I admire her and those like her. I have always called Jane an “angel on this earth” for what she does to help patients and families cope with difficult and heart-wrenching times. Physicians and surgeons like Dr. Chapman and his fabulous team, help us gain those extra years we otherwise might not have.
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Just so you know.....the patient whose surgery I observed gave written permission for an observer to be present. He does not know who it was, and he will never know.
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On another note, if you have not seen it already, please read the notice below, which will tell you why we cancelled our appearance on CELEBRITY DUETS. Until next week, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart.

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SPECIAL NOTICE:

September 21, 2006


CANCELLATION OF THE 'CELEBRITY DUETS' SHOW.


I want to let you know that Daryl and I have canceled our scheduled appearance on CELEBRITY DUETS, which was scheduled to air 'Live' on Fox-TV on Sept. 29th. As I told you last week, we are in the middle of a very stressful move..packing up the house we have lived in for over thirteen years, and preparing to move to our home in southern California the first week of October. Also, our elderly bulldog is suffering from serious arthritis in her elbows and spine, and may not be able to haul her big body around for too much longer, and don’t want to be away from her at this time. We just decided that, with all this going on, we could not take four days to go down to LA for a three minute appearance. We will certainly let you know if there are any TV appearances scheduled in the future.
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September 17, 2006

LEAVING NEVADA | THE SILENT TREATMENT

The limbs of our crabapple trees are groaning under the weight of a bumper crop of beautiful, red, bitter fruit. Soon the cold winds will come to scatter the crabapples like rubies onto the green grass below. The Rabbit Brush is bursting into bloom, coloring the high desert foothills with daubs of bright yellow. The early morning air has the hint of an autumn chill. September in northern Nevada is my very favorite month...... the days are still warm, and the nights are crisp and cool.
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This September is different, though. We are feeling excitement and anticipation mixed with a bit of melancholy. Daryl and I are leaving northern Nevada soon to make a new home in the high central plateau of Arizona, near Sedona. We have lived in our current house for over 13 years. Why move now? Well, let me try to tell you why.
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We live in the beautiful Washoe Valley of northern Nevada, nestled between Reno and the state capitol of Carson City. Our five acres of land are situated snug against the foothills of the high Sierra, with Incline Village at Lake Tahoe just over the hills to our west. A more beautiful setting would be hard to find, but several years ago, we decided the winters were not as much fun as they used to be. I guess it is the “snowbird” syndrome...the older one gets, the colder and longer the winters seem. So a few years ago we bought a winter home in the Coachella Valley of southern California near Palm Springs.
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For the past four years we have made the trek down to southern California to spend the winter months. We usually leave Washoe Valley sometime in early December. Daryl drives the sedan with the three cats in their carriers in the back seat. They meow loudly for the first 1/2 hour or so, and then go into a kind of “kitty suspended animation” until the car goes over a bump along the way. MEOW!!!
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I follow in the minivan with the three dogs. Since I have to stop and let them out at least twice on the way, AND stop for gas (AND, I don’t drive as FAST as Daryl “Andretti” does), it takes me almost two hours longer to make the 550 mile trip. Daryl...Captain Iron Bladder....stops only once, to get gas and pee. He and the cats arrive at our southern California home in about 8 1/2 hours, depending on the weather and traffic. Must be nice. It usually takes me 10 1/2 hours.
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The first part of the trip is absolutely beautiful. It follows Hwy 395 south along the eastern slope of the Sierras, where I have hiked and climbed for many years. Everytime I pass through Lone Pine, CA and see the summit of Mount Whitney, I fondly remember both times I climbed the 14,494’ peak. I was lucky enough to have had 200 mile visibility on both summit days (the view was breathtaking, but I was really pooped. And I STILL had to get myself DOWN the mountain!).
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Once you drive past the southern end of the Sierras, the party is over. Then you hit the truck and RV routes, and the insane freeways of southern California. The speed limit is 75 MPH on most of the four lane roads, but you’d never know it as the cars and trucks whiz by on BOTH sides doing 95+ MPH. And, of course, NOBODY uses turn signals. You are supposed to read their minds. For me and the dogs the trip is 550 miles of SERIOUS defensive, nerve-wracking driving. AND...Daryl and I have to be flexible with our departure date, since our route takes us over the high mountain passes through Mammoth Lakes, and a snow storm enroute would be a disaster.
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Which brings me to why we are moving our primary residence from northern Nevada to Arizona. Daryl and I have a couple of elderly neighbors (“elderly” being older than we are!) in their mid 80s. “Ted” and “Marie” (not their real names) have been married over 60 years. “Ted” is a charming, dapper, outgoing British gentleman, and “Marie” is a lovely, petite Frenchwoman. They met during World War II, and have been together ever since. “Marie” is having quite a few medical problems, and is withdrawing more and more into herself, and rarely leaves the house. “Ted” is desperate to move down to warmer weather so he can continue his three mile walks every morning, and not have to deal with the ice and snow. Sun City...a retirement community in southern California...is his idea of heaven, but “Marie” won’t budge.
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One morning several months ago, while we were walking the dogs, we spotted “Ted”, and stopped for a chat. We asked if he had persuaded “Marie” to make the move to warmer climes. He ruefully shook his head. Then he put his hand on my arm, looked me right in the eye, and gently admonished, in his charming British accent, “Toni, be where you’re going to be by the time you’re seventy.”
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POW!! It was like a lightning bolt. Daryl and I looked at each other, and I knew we were both thinking, “Seventy? That’s not that far away!” Later, after we got home, we had the first of many talks about our future. We both agreed that the winters in Washoe Valley were making things very difficult...especially after the 8 feet of snow we had two winters ago. We were late making the trip down to southern California that year and got caught in the first major snowstorm of the season before we could leave. Daryl was out in his big Dodge truck with the snow plow trying to keep our long driveway and the road down to the mailbox clear. My job was to keep shoveling pathways through the shoulder-high snow for us and the dogs to get through. Also, our regular morning walks were getting scary because of the black ice along the roads. And although we are both strong and fit right now, a fall when we’re in our 80s could be a very bad thing. We decided to start looking around for a place to live closer to our southern California home.
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After a lot of research and talking to friends, we settled on a small town in the high central plateau of Arizona, near Sedona. The 5200’ altitude is the same as Washoe Valley, and the weather is very similar....just a few degrees WARMER all the way around. They do get snow in the winter, but 1 1/2 feet is considered a HUGE amount. SO...we’ll have all four seasons, just not such cold and difficult winters. But best of all, the drive is only a little over 4 hours from our home in the Coachella Valley. Our new town is a center for art and artists of all kinds, so I hope I can contribute to our new community as I have here in Nevada as Ambassador to the Arts. The community has a small, regional symphony orchestra, and Daryl is threatening to take up classical bass again and try out for fourth chair!
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What I am really trying to express here is that sometimes you simply have to sit down and take stock of where you are, and where you hope to be in a few years.....especially if you are approaching retirement age. Yes, Daryl and I will not be seeing our dear northern Nevada friends as often as we do now, but we hope to make some new friends in Arizona. In fact,Daryl already has an old friend there from his Beach Boy days. When I was a young Girl Scout at Camp Talahi in Alabama, we used a sing a song around the campfire that said, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” That is what we hope to do.
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As our friend, “Ted,” said, “Be where you are going to be by the time you are seventy.” That may seem like a very long time to some of you, but time flies faster than you can imagine.


On another note....I had an email recently from a writer who asked about what to do when you “lose” your voice. That is SUCH a scary thing if your voice is important to your work. So many things can cause hoarseness and laryngitis...colds, allergies, incorrect use of the voice, such as yelling at a sporting event, etc. I had laryngitis problems several times while I was touring with VICTOR/VICTORIA in 1998-99. I am terribly allergic to smoke, mold, and theatre dust. Many of the theatres where we performed were built as long ago as the 1920’s...so you can imagine how much dust and mold they contained.
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I only know of one sure way to protect and regain your voice after “losing it.” DON’T TALK AT ALL. DON’T EVEN WHISPER...whispering is just as bad as talking out loud. When you try to sing or talk in spite of a sore throat and laryngitis, you begin to build up a callous on your vocal cords....just like you would on your heel with a too-tight shoe rubbing it. The more you try to force your voice, the worse the inflammation and callous will be. The callous will not go away until you stop irritating it. It is a terrible, stressful situation. The remedy is simple, but most people can’t stand to STOP TALKING. But you must.
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Here is how I tried to handle it during VICTOR/VICTORIA. Whenever I was not onstage, I hardly spoke at all....I’m sure I was duller than dirt, but my responsibility was to the show, and I HAD to do it. There was a time in January, I believe, of 1999, when I finally had to take a whole week off, and remain mute the entire time. I communicated with Becky, my assistant, and with Daryl by writing out things on a note pad I kept with me. We also worked out a series of taps on the phone for one word answers like “yes” or “no.” It was a VERY hard thing to do, but after a solid week of no talking, my voice was right back where it needed to be, and I was able to finish the tour with no further problems.
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I wish I could tell you there is an easier way, but there isn’t. It all goes back to what I’ve told you before....your body is your instrument. Take great care of it.
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Next week I plan to tell you about a fabulous experience I had recently, observing open heart surgery IN the operating room, no more than four feet from the surgeon and the incision. The surgeon and his team reminded me of a fabulous musical group that has worked together for years. I’ll tell you all about it next week. In the mean time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart.
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September 10, 2006

MUSKRATS AT THE WHITE HOUSE | THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE

Those of you who attended many of our concerts over the years have heard me tell a condensed story of what happened when we sang MUSKRAT LOVE at The White House. However, since quite a few readers have never heard the story, I’m going to tell you about it in this TONI’S TAKE.
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In the summer of 1976, Daryl and I had just climbed aboard the roller coaster of our pop music careers. We had two million-selling hits by that time....LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER and THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU....and were performing around the country and recording our second album. We were thrilled beyond words when we received an invitation from President and Mrs. Gerald Ford to perform that July at The White House, along with the legendary comedian, Bob Hope. The occasion was the celebration of our nation’s Bi-Centennial. We were told that Queen Elizabeth of England and her husband, Prince Philip would be in the audience, along with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and his wife, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife Nancy, and many other dignitaries. We were to perform in the famous East Room, and were asked to prepare a program of about 20-25 minutes.
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I was excited, and I was a wreck! We only had two hits, and I really didn’t think THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU was appropriate to sing at The White House. What songs should we perform? A twenty minute program seemed like an eternity. I also was pretty sure that most of the audience would have absolutely NO idea who we were. I tried to calm myself down by telling myself it was kind of like when we performed in LA clubs....just pick a couple of nice top 40 type tunes, throw in a couple of our own, and we were home free!
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I was anxious about what to wear. It had to be something respectful of the place and the occasion....nothing too beaded and sequiny...nothing low cut or slit up the leg. I finally settled on a simple, rather conservative gown in a pale cream color chiffon, skimming the body but not clingy...falling in soft, diagonal layers to the floor. Perfect, I thought (I wonder what ever happened to that gown). Daryl wore a white tuxedo and matching Captain’s hat.
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I remember how privileged and awe-struck I felt to be in that historical place on that special occasion. As we made our way to the famous East Room to set up for rehearsal, I could hardly believe I was actually in the White House. When we reached the East Room, and got our first look at it, my heart SANK!!!! It was so SMALL. We had so much equipment, six or seven microphones, all of Daryl’s keyboards, big amplifiers!!! This room probably seated around 100 people, and I could see instantly that it was really set up for acoustic performances such as a string quartet or an opera singer accompanied by piano. We were going to be way too loud before we even turned on one piece of equipment!!!
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Our rehearsal time was VERY limited...Secret Service guys were everywhere, watching our every move....or maybe I just thought they were. Once we had everything hooked up, and started our sound check, we were told in no uncertain terms to TURN IT DOWN. So we did. TURN IT DOWN more. So we did. Finally we were down so low, we were almost off. I was a wreck. Daryl was a mess. This was NOT going to go well.
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As all of this was going on, a lovely lady...a vision in a beautiful yellow linen summer suit....came into the room and approached me. It was Mrs. Ford! She greeted me with a hand shake and a warm smile, and told me how thrilled she and President Ford were to have us there. She asked me what songs we planned to perform. I mentioned LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, and a couple of other tunes. She asked if I was going to sing THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I said, “Well, Mrs. Ford, I was thinking that wouldn’t really be the right kind of song to sing at The White House.” And she replied, “Oh, no...you MUST sing it. Jerry and I love that song.” She then said she would see us that evening, and left me absolutely in shock.
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After Mrs. Ford left the room, I went over to Daryl to tell him what she had said about THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU. I remember telling him that, since she wanted us to do THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, she would probably be open to just about any tune we chose. I said to Daryl that maybe we should do MUSKRAT LOVE, since it had been such a hit with our club audiences. I thought the White House audience might get a kick out of it, too, and pick up on the whimsical humor of the lyrics. Anyhow, that was my logic. Oh, boy.
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I’m tryng to remember exactly what songs we did, and in what order. I think we opened with MIND YOUR LOVE, an up-tempo “rockabilly” kind of tune (I think it is on our SONG OF JOY album). Then we did THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU, followed by MUSKRAT LOVE. Then I think we did a popular country tune called COUNTRY SUNSHINE, and we closed with LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER. However, by the time we finished MUSKRAT LOVE, we were dead ducks.
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Try to picture this. I am seated at the keyboard at the very front of the foot-high stage. No more than eight feet from me, in the first row of the audience, sat, left to right, The Prime Minister of Great Britain and his wife, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, President and Mrs. Ford, and Henry and Nancy Kissinger.
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After the first couple of tunes, everything seemed to be going pretty well, so I was starting to breathe a sigh of relief. And then we started the intro to MUSKRAT LOVE. This is what I saw as I started to sing.....Queen Elizabeth was sort of dozing, her head drooping a bit to the side (probably jet lag and, maybe, boredom). Prince Philip was smiling happily and tapping his foot to the beat. President and Mrs. Ford were smiling and nodding along....no problem there, thank God. Then my eyes settled on Dr. Kissinger and his wife. He sat stiff and stone-faced. When he realized I was singing a song about two muskrats in love, I could see that he was NOT amused. But when Daryl started playing the infamous muskrat sounds during the instrumental, Henry wanted to be ANYWHERE but where he was!
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Flop sweat beaded my brow. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was, too, but I was stuck. We finished up with LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, and the ordeal was finally over. Prince Philip made it a point to say some nice things about our music, bless his heart. President and Mrs. Ford seemed quite pleased. I never saw Henry again.
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We all then gathered in another large room for drinks and dancing to the Marine Corps Band. THEY were LOUD. But I will never forget dancing with President Ford...such a nice, decent man....not a particularly good dancer, but then, neither am I. I never get to dance because Daryl doesn’t dance at all, and has no interest in it. But that’s another story!
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Some days later, Rolling Stone called to interview us for the one and only time in our careers. They had heard about how we had performed “a song of sexual innuendo, inappropriate for royalty” at the White House, and wanted to hear all about it. That quote supposedly came from one of the Queen’s Ladies in Waiting..or from Chef, Julia Childs, who was also in the audience. Anyhow, it was all a tempest in a teapot to me, and I kept thinking how much more fun club audiences were than the one at The White House.
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By the way, we have never been invited back.




One more quick note on another subject. My nephew, Chris Cognac (my sister, Louisa’s son) will be starring in his own show, THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE, on the Food Network, beginning October 17th. Chris is a Detective in the Hawthorne, California Police Department, who also happens to be a Food Critic. In each episode of his show, he visits a different city, and tracks down all the small, interesting food places the locals and cops know about, but most people would never find. Daryl keeps telling him to find the health food restaurants, but Chris isn’t particularly interested in “healthy” food.....he’s always looking for food that TASTES good (not that you can’t find TASTY health food)! Chris is a real natural on television, and we are all very proud of him. Check it out in October. Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart!

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September 3, 2006

FINDING YOUR OWN STYLE | EYDIE AND SARAH

Over the years, many of you who aspire to become professional singers have written to me, saying how much you like my voice and my style, and how you have tried to “sing just like” me. WRONG!!!!!! You should NEVER try to sing just like anyone else.
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As a professional singer, one of the most important things you MUST do, is find your own style...your own voice. I know how tempting it can be to admire a particular singer’s voice, and think that, if you sound just like they do, you will be successful. You won’t, unless you are making your living as a vocal impressionist...one who amuses audiences by singing just like Louis Armstrong or Barbra Streisand or Johnny Cash for example. Your vocal physiology...the actual makeup of your vocal cords, your sinus cavities...all the physical elements required to make your sound...are uniquely your own, and the sound they produce is yours alone. Don’t fight it....embrace it.
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Also you must consider the emotional makeup of your life. Everything you experience...good, bad, sorrowful, joyful.... will color your approach to a song. You will take what you learn in life, and make it part of your sound. I have been singing COME IN FROM THE RAIN for 30 years. I approach the lyrics and the meaning of that song in a different way at this stage in my life, because of all the “water under my bridge” since I first recorded it. This is a good thing. Your art should should change and grow as you do.
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I have always told you how important it is to learn HOW to sing. Take lessons from a respected voice teacher so that you produce your tone correctly. This will save you so much misery caused by incorrect singing. When I was 19 years old, singing with the Auburn Knights Orchestra at Auburn University in Alabama, I was literally afraid to take voice lessons. I was positive I would end up sounding like an opera singer (which is NOT a bad thing, but not what I wanted), and lose my “jazz” sound. Consequently, I had laryngitis constantly from singing incorrectly. Once I began to learn the proper technique, I still sounded like ME, but I had the tools to protect my voice.
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However, what we’re talking about here is the importance of a unique vocal style. When I was in high school, I was THRILLED when friends told me I sounded “just like Julie London.” Julie was a wonderful singer....very underrated as a jazz singer in my opinion by the way...who had a very popular album called CALENDAR GIRL out at the time. She had a hit record on the radio called CRY ME A RIVER, a song she sang with a breathy, sultry voice. I LOVED her singing, and I loved it when people told me I sounded like her. Of course I didn’t sound like her...I just had a similar rather smoky-sounding voice.
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Julie London was only one of many, many singers I admired....Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughn, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, Eydie Gorme, Carmen McRae, and many more. I listened over and over to their recordings, singing along, and trying out their phrasing and style with my own voice. I still hadn’t figured out that my own voice was just right for me, so I would throw in a Sarah lick, or a Carmen phrase as I was trying to find my style. It took me years to embrace my “tenor” voice, and stop trying to sing high notes I didn’t have. I learned that my lower register was just fine, and served me well.


Some years ago, Eydie Gorme, one of my favorite singers (and favorite people) in the world, told me a wonderful story about her and the great jazz vocalist, Sarah Vaughn, Eydie’s absolute idol. Sarah came to hear Eydie sing when Eydie was just starting her career. Eydie was very young, and in awe of Sarah (as I was, too). Eydie told me, “I didn’t even know how much I was emulating Sarah...hitting her low notes, her amazing high notes...singing the orchestral licks instead of the melody. I was very young. I was singing jazz..and I was good..and why not? I was basically impersonating Sarah. So when we met, Sarah did tell me that I was indeed very good, but there already was a Sarah Vaughn, and that was her. ‘Find your own style,’ Sarah told me, ‘and you will be great. But you could keep my name alive.’ And since then, I always say that she was my idol.”
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So what Sarah really said to Eydie was, “There already is a Sarah. YOU be Eydie.” What sage advice from one wonderful musician and singer to another. And, of course, Eydie, along with her husband, Steve Lawrence, went on to have a fabulous career, and to be admired and idolized for her unique style and sound by singers like me!
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So enough of my “lecture” on vocal styling! Now I will tell you about one of the first times I sang “in public.” Of course, I sang in public all the time when I was young...in the church choir and high school glee club chorus. But the very first time I sang as a “pop” singer, I chose two really different tunes. I was probably fifteen years old, and I don’t even remember what the exact occasion was, but I remember that I sang CRY ME A RIVER (of course.....Julie London’s hit song) and...are you ready?.....ABBA DABBA HONEYMOON....a popular novelty tune about a monkey and a chimpanzee in love, recorded by the VERY young, Debbie Reynolds. I was a big hit in my VERY small pond, but it was fun, and the audience reaction made me think I MAYBE I might have a chance to make it as a singer some day.
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A quick note....Daryl and I will be making an appearance on the new Simon Cowell show, CELEBRITY DUETS. They asked us to appear several weeks ago, and after discussing it for a while, Daryl and I decided to do it.......mainly so that all of you could see that we are still alive, and still able to put one foot in front of the other!!! We’ll be on the very last show in the series...live, on Fox Network...on Friday, September 29th at 8PM. The show will be two hours long, and I have no idea what time we will be on. If I find out before then, I’ll tell you in my column. Wish us luck! Until next week, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep a “Song of Joy” Inside Your Heart!
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August 27, 2006

DARYL'S BIRTHDAY PIE | DRIVING WITH THE CAPTAIN


Daryl and I woke up early this morning, as we usually do. The sun was just rising, and painting the Sierra foothills to the west with a golden glow. Nearby coyotes were sounding their eerie, other-wordly cries, harmonizing with the sublime sounds of a Mozart French Horn Concerto on our XM Radio. There is just a hint of autumn chill in the air. Another beautiful, welcome morning at our rural northern Nevada home.
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But THIS day is particularly special. Today is Daryl’s birthday....his 64th....and I am going to bake him a “legal” peach pie, with peaches from our very own backyard peach tree.
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We have lived in our home in northern Nevada for over 13 years now. The little peach tree we planted when we moved in has only given us peaches TWICE in that time. Here in northern Nevada, at our altitude (5200’) growers have much better luck with apple trees...they usually give fruit 4 out of 5 years. Our crabapple trees bear tons of that mostly inedible fruit every year (although my friend, Carole, makes delicious crabapple jam most years). The deer, the ground squirrels, and the occasional bear feast on the crabapples every year at this time. But this year our PEACH tree has provided me with perfect peaches at exactly the right time of year for Daryl’s birthday pie.
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Daryl is not particularly thrilled about this particular birthday. However, he does know that I DO still “need him”, and I WILL still “feed him” now that he has turned 64. I have to laugh at him when he moans and compains about this ache or that pain, reminding him regularly that I am older than he is, and I’m doing just fine. Actually, women just complain less about physical discomforts. We usually just suck it up and go on about our business.
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Daryl and I are not particularly sentimental about special dates. We used to forget our wedding anniversary regularly until a couple of days before it occurred (we are better about remembering it lately). I am able to keep a few birthdays in my memory for quick retrieval....Daryl’s, my sisters’, a few close friends. Daryl and I tend to “celebrate” our own birthdays quietly together.
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So here is what we have planned for Daryl’s birthday today. He has asked me to bake a “legal” pie for him. What is a “legal” pie? Well, under the requirements of “Daryl’s Rules of Healthy Eating and Nutrition” that means a whole wheat crust, and filling made with no refined sugar. I used to struggle and curse my way through trying to make my own whole wheat pie crust for him. I used whole wheat pastry flour, and various pie crust recipes from our extensive collection of natural foods cookbooks, but it always turned out heavy, tasting somewhat like soggy cardboard. And my kitchen was always a disaster after I wrestled with the damned crust. The filling is EASY, the crust is HARD. Literally.
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Daryl, however, claimed to enjoy the resulting pie, and ate every bite.... usually within 24 hours. That’s why I make cookies or pies for him only on very special occasions. He says he has no willpower, and would eat a pie a day if I made one for him.
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The good news is....I have discovered FROZEN WHOLE WHEAT PIE CRUSTS!!!! Our local Wild Oats™ (natural foods) store carries them! SO much easier, and my kitchen stays MUCH cleaner. For Daryl’s legal filling, I simply combine 2 1/2 cups (or so) of thinly sliced peaches, 2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour, and honey to taste (I use about 1/2 cup). Place the mixture into the whole wheat pie crust, dot with butter, put another whole wheat pie crust on top (thawed, of course), pinch the edges of the two crusts together, make some holes in the top crust with a sharp knife to let the steam escape, and bake in a 375 degree, pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes (maybe more....keep checking...at least until it “bubbles”).
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Remember.....ALL of my recipes are “by the seat of my pants.” I really just play it by ear. You’ll have to fool around with any recipe I give you to make it work for you. However, if you try this one, and it turns out well, you can think of Daryl’s birthday pie as you enjoy it!
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We don’t exchange gifts...not even at Christmas time. We both feel that we receive “gifts” from each other every day, so a purchased gift isn’t necessary. We’ll finish off our celebration of Daryl’s birthday with an early dinner tonight at a favorite local restaurant.
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Now, I don’t want you to finish reading TONI’S TAKE today, thinking that Daryl and I never have disagreements, and that we never YELL at each other. We DO! Especially when we are going somewhere in the car. He always prefers that I drive. However, he always has to tell me HOW to drive while I am DRIVING. “Hurry up...make this signal.....let this guy go....don’t cut this guy off....how fast are you going?....” All the while he is saying these things, the steam is slowly rising in my brain, until I finally yell (here it comes...SO predictable), “Do YOU want to drive????” “No.” “Then SHUT UP!!!!!!”. We might as well have a tape recording of that exchange, and just push “play” the minute we get in the car. It would save SO much stress on MY part!
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That’s my rant for the day! Marital bliss.....we’ve enjoyed it now for almost 31 years (with a just few bumpy spots along the way)! So until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A “SONG OF JOY” Inside Your Heart.
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August 20, 2006

KAREN AND RICHARD | CARY GRANT

Let me share a few memories of Karen and Richard Carpenter with you.
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Shortly after Daryl and I signed with A&M Records in 1974, we made our first visit to the famed studios on La Brea in Los Angeles, to take a look at the recording facilities that would be available to us. The facility was “famed”, not only because it was the home of A&M Records, but because it was formerly owned by the great comic silent film star, Charlie Chaplin, and many of the buildings remained from those days.
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A&M was like a college campus, with recording artists from labels other than A&M also using the terrific recording studios there. You might run into artists like Joni Mitchell as you strolled the grounds. In fact, I almost fell over one day at A&M when I was washing my hands in the Ladies Room, and Joni Mitchell emerged from the stall next to the one I had been occupying. We said hello to each other, and I “casually” exited the room, and immediately went to find Daryl to tell him I had “met” the great Joni Mitchell. I’m certain to this day she has no idea she ever “met” me.
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Karen and Richard Carpenter had been making hits for A&M for a couple of years before we arrived. They were truly “superstars” of the A&M lot. I remember that Daryl and I were so impressed when we saw TWO of the very limited, very precious parking spaces with their names on them. Richard always drove some wonderful, perfectly detailed, shiny automobile. I remember in particular a Mercedes sports car, gleaming patent leather black, often parked in his space.
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Every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of Karen or Richard, and we would acknowledge each other with a wave or a nod, but rarely did we speak at any length. Karen and Richard were very reserved, and I certainly don’t blame them. At this stage in their careers, privacy was a luxury, and we never wanted to intrude. Also, they may have had reservations about this new “duo” on the A&M lot.
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We ended up sharing the same management team, and the same wonderful recording engineer, Roger Young. I’m not going to name their managers, because I believe they were at least partially responsible for Karen’s struggle with anorexia. I could be wrong about this, but remember what I’ve told you...they don’t call it show BUSINESS for nothing, and it can be tough and mean.
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When Daryl and I knew Karen....and, remember, we were just the most casual of acquaintances.....she was NEVER heavy or CLOSE to fat. She was rather pear-shaped, as a lot of women are. As I am, in fact. She was slender from the waist up, and carried most of her weight, which appeared perfectly normal to me, in her hips. When you are pear-shaped, if you are not careful with what you wear, you can APPPEAR to be a bit heavy, especially on television, which can add about 10 pounds to anyone’s frame.
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I believe Karen’s management team suggested to her that she needed to lose some weight so she would “look better on television.” Arghhh!!!! It makes me so angry just to think of it. Karen took that “suggestion” and ran with it, dropping weight like crazy so she would look thin. We watched her shrink, and it was horrifying. She was never, ever FAT!!!!! She was normal. Not good enough for the idiots who advised her.
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Karen often wore clothes onstage that totally disguised her body. I remember once, when her anorexia was well-entrenched, Daryl and I attended one of the Capenter’s shows in Las Vegas. It was a lovely show, with Karen’s gorgeous, warm voice filling the room. After the show, Daryl and I went backstage to say hello, and as I hugged her, I had to force myself not to let her see the shock that went through me when I realized that all I could feel through her robe was BONES! It was like hugging a skeleton.
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I left that show so angry, and so fearful for Karen’s health and the future of that lovely person and her exquisite voice. I was angry again, and filled with an incredible sorrow when I learned of her death. She was an artist...she was fragile....and this stupid business, with its focus on superficial things, killed her. Even today, when I hear her voice on the radio, I am filled with a sadness....now muted by time...but still there. She was so young. She could have still been sharing that lovely voice with us today.
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Well...sorry I had to vent!!! It is no secret I hate the business side of show biz. But now, let me tell you a FUN story


Daryl and I had season tickets to the Los Angeles Dodgers back in the seventies, and we attended as many home games as we could at Dodger Stadium. I sang our National Anthem many, many times there, as well as at almost every baseball stadium in the country. I always consider it an honor to sing the anthem, and I always feel that, while singing it, I should dress with respect for our flag. I always try to sing it simply, bearing in mind what the words actually mean.
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Stay with me....this story is one of my favorites. Back in the 70s, prior to one of the National League playoff games at Dodger Stadium, we were invited to join a special gathering of Dodger fans in a private room at the stadium prior to the game. Most of the people there were friends of Dodger management. I was sitting at a table, chatting with friends, when a man approached, and said in an unmistakeable accent, “Miss Tennille, I’m Cary Grant.” I looked up, my eyes widened, my jaw dropped, and I immediately thought, “Of COURSE you are!!!!!” There he was...the gorgeous, elegant man himself. THE Cary Grant. Standing right next to me, speaking MY name. I was speechless. He continued, as if I were not close to fainting, “I just wanted to tell you that I have never heard the National Anthem sung as beautifully as you sing it.” I managed to say thank you, and he walked back into the dream from whence I thought he came. It turns out he was a huge Dodger fan, and attended many of their games. His comment to me made for one of my most treasured memories.
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Thank you all for reading TONI’S TAKE, and for your kind comments and suggestions for future columns. Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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August 13, 2006

THE ONLY BEACH GIRL | MIKE DOUGLAS | ELLA DUET

Let me tell you the story of how I became “The First (and Only) Beach Girl”.
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After MOTHER EARTH closed in Los Angeles in 1971 (or ‘72...can’t remember the exact date), Daryl had to return to the Beach Boys band, as they were getting ready to tour again. Their regular acoustic (as opposed to synth) piano player, Billy Hinsche, had decided to take some time off to finish his college degree, and the boys were in need of someone to take over that spot in the band while he was away. Daryl thought that Carl Wilson, who acted as the band’s Music Director, might be open to hiring me to fill that spot while Billy was away.
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Bear in mind that they had NEVER had a woman in the band. It is called the Beach BOYS, after all. But somehow, Daryl was able to convince Carl that I could do the job, and he agreed to bring me along on their next tour, which opened in Binghamton, New York. Carl made this decision without hearing me play! I guess he trusted Daryl’s judgement, thank goodness.
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We had a couple of weeks to get ready for the tour, and Daryl spent the time teaching me all the parts. I recall the parts were technically easy to play, but required a great deal of “muscle power” and finger strength. After Daryl ran me through our first practice session, my forearms were killing me from all of the repetitive figures I had to play. I studied classical piano for ten years, but Bach and Chopin had never prepared me for THIS!
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Finally the day came to join the rest of the band for the flight to Binghamton. I was nervous, and very excited. Actually, I was falling in love with Daryl, and that added to the stress of the whole situation. We sat next to each other on the flight, and I will never forget our approach to the Binghamton airport, and the beginning of my new adventure. The sun was setting behind us as we flew, and below us was a layer of huge cumulus clouds, colored orange, coral, pink and molton gold by the setting sun. As I watched the clouds, I was listening to Holst’s THE PLANETS on the headphones....MARS, I believe it was...and the music fit the scene below, and my state of mind, as if it were written just for the occasion.
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We landed in Binghamton on a cold, spring day...snow on the ground. I had asked Daryl earlier how I would know if I passed Carl’s “audition”. He told me that during the first rehearsal, Carl (who had never MET me until that day, remember) would casually walk over to me as I played, and would make his decision then as to whether I could cut it. Of course, I spent the entire rehearsal, looking for Carl’s approach out of the corner of my eye. Sure enough, I spotted him slowly walking my way. I kept playing. He stood near me for a moment, listening, and then walked back to the front of the stage. I learned later that he agreed with Daryl that I would do just fine, even though I was a GIRL.
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I have often been asked if the Beach Boys hired me to sing, also. No. They hired me strictly as a pianist...they didn’t even know I could sing (unless Daryl mentioned it to them). However, after I had been with them for a while, one of the guys had a case of laryngitis, and Carl asked me if I thought I could fill in until he improved. I said yes, learned the parts, and filled in for a while.
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The whole time this was going on, I felt like I was in some kind of a dream. This was the BEACH BOYS, after all! I was in their band...albeit only for a few months. I remember, years before, hearing GOOD VIBRATIONS for the first time on the radio, as I was driving along. I absolutely had to STOP the car on the side of the road and listen! It was brilliant...stupendous...fabulous. And here I was, playing that song every night with the boys! Unbelieveable.
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Now, if my memory is correct, my first big concert with the Boys was in Philadelphia (Binghamton was a rehearsal/warm up situation). I had never been to a rock concert in my entire life, and here I was on stage, with the audience screaming so loud for the band, I could hardly hear myself think! I do remember that after that first concert, my ears RANG for a half hour, and my hearing was diminished. Daryl forgot to tell me to wear ear plugs to protect my hearing. I never forgot them again!
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There are more stories of my stint with the Beach Boys, but that will have to wait for another day. I want to talk just a bit about Mike Douglas, who passed away a few days ago. Daryl and I were guests on his show around 1976 or 1977 (my fuzzy memory). Although my memory for exact dates is not that great, I will NEVER forget our appearance on his show. One of my idols, the great jazz singer, Sarah Vaughn, was to appear also, and she and I ended up singing a duet together. I remember she asked me what I wanted to sing. I was so flustered, my mind went blank. I finally came up with a song called, I’M OLD FASHIONED...a classic standard tune. She said, “Well, I don’t know it that well, but give me the words, and I’ll wing it”. And wing it she did...in glorious fashion! Once again, I found myself in music heaven, and SO grateful for all the good fortune brought to me by the success of CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE.
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But there is MORE to the Mike Douglas story. Some weeks later, Daryl and I were appearing in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel. A call came into our dressing room from Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme!!! Daryl and I had never met them...didn’t know them at all, except for their fabulous voices and musicianship that we had heard on recordings over the years. “Toni, this is Eydie Gorme. Steve and I just wanted to tell you how wonderful we thought your duet with Sarah was on the Mike Douglas show.” I almost fell over when I heard her voice. What a thrill!!
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Since that time, Daryl and I have gotten to know Steve and Eydie, and have been privileged to see them in concert many times. Theirs is another so-called “show biz marriage” that has survived for all these years, due to their respect and love for each other. When they called our dressing room that night, they taught me a very important lesson.....When a colleague, or someone in your field of endeavor, does something you admire, don’t assume they know it. Let them know....a note, a phone call. Even if you don’t know each other, it can mean so much.
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Speaking of duets....Daryl was fooling around on Google a few days ago, and noticed they now have a video link. He typed in my name, and up popped a video of the duet I sang with Ella Fitzgerald on our 1979 CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE SONGBOOK special. I have no idea who posted it. The video quality is very poor...so it looks like it might have been recorded off the TV at the time it aired. That special was one of the ones R2 was supposed to release this year. Anyhow, I remember that duet vividly...the joy of making music with Ella...not only one of the greatest singers ever born, but one of the kindest, dearest, most modest ladies I have ever known. There was not one ounce of DIVA in her. I will always carry her in my heart. If you check out the Google video, you will first see Ella sing MISTER PAGANINI, her famous scat song, and she swings her ass off, frankly. Then she joins me for a medley of torch songs. I LOVED seeing it again, and I think you might enjoy it, too.
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Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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August 6, 2006

MEETING DARYL-Part 2 | SECRET OF CHRISTMAS UPDATE


I will now tell you the rest of the story of how I met Daryl.
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After MOTHER EARTH finished its run at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Orange County, California, my partner, Ron Thronson, and I had an offer to present the show in San Francisco, under the auspices of the American Conservatory Theatre. The show ran at the Marines Memorial Theatre there, and was very well received.
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I should also mention that, in addition to writing the music and acting as Music Director, I also was in the cast. I am leaving out the part about how Ron and I, in our naiveté about the “business” part of show biz, signed a deal with the wrong people, and lost creative control of our show. It is just too painful to remember or talk about. So I don’t.
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We were making plans to move the show down to Los Angeles, but the keyboard player we hired in San Francisco couldn’t make the trip to LA. A guy named Daryl Dragon was recommended to me. I was told he was a great musician, and might be available if the BEACH BOYS were on a break between tours. Daryl had been a member of their backup band for about six years at that time.
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Daryl says that he was given a tape of me singing the music from MOTHER EARTH, and was intrigued with my voice and my writing. Since he happened to be on a break from Beach Boy touring, he decided to fly up to San Francisco to “audition” for me.
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I will never forget the day I walked into the lobby of the Marines Memorial Theatre that summer of 1971, to see my possible new keyboardist sitting there. He was dressed all in black...black jeans, black shirt and jacket, and..yes...black hat. He was kind of slouched down on the seat, and he was VERY skinny. He had been on a strict vegetarian diet for a couple of years, and, as a bachelor living alone, was mostly cooking for himself. I have lived with him now for over thirty years, and I know he is a TERRIBLE cook (or he pretends to be, so I’ll do all the cooking). No wonder he was so skinny.
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I, on the other hand, was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, very tall (5’11”) with long blond “surfer girl” hair. I believe I was wearing a long paisley-print skirt in the “hippie” style of the day (I don’t remember EXACTLY what I was wearing, but that skirt was part of my wardrobe then). I was probably a little overwhelming! I can’t imagine what he thought when he first saw me, but I knew instantly that he would be very important in my life. I can’t explain how I knew that, but I did. I also didn’t know what form his influence on my life and music would take. That realization would come later.
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He played for me that afternoon, and made me laugh out loud with his quirky approach to music. He was unlike any musician I had ever met. I hired him on the spot, and to this day I know it was the best decision I ever made in my life!
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Daryl and I have been together now since 1972. We are both amazed at how quickly time has passed. When I look at the DVDs of our Captain and Tennille Variety Show from 1976-77, I often think, “Who IS that girl?!!!” I am still that same “girl”, only 30 years older, and a bit wiser, I hope. The one thing that has continued unabated (besides how grateful we are to be sharing this life with each other) is our enjoyment of making music together. I am the musically conservative one, and Daryl is the one who takes our music “out there”. Thank goodness for him, because I would be boring as hell if I had total control of our sound. I guess we are like yin and yang....he makes me reach for something beyond my comfort zone, and I help make his music more accessible.
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Daryl and I try to get to San Francisco at least once a year. As you can imagine, that city is very special to us. A couple of years ago when we were there, we decided to swing by the Marines Memorial Theatre to revisit the place where we met. Well, it’s gone. Not the theatre, but the LOBBY where I first saw Daryl. The theatre has been renovated, and the lobby moved to another area of the building. Still, the stage and other parts of the theatre were the same, and being there brought back many, many memories.
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On another subject....Thank you, thank you!... for all of the lovely notes you have written about THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS “snippets”. I am happy to say that we are now legally free of any ties to R2 Entertainment, and are free to make another deal for release of the CD. However, we will not be able to do it this season. There is just not enough time to give it the promotion campaign we think it deserves. We WILL get it out to you next year.
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Until next week.....in the words of the late, great Billy Preston...Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart.
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July 30, 2006

MEETING DARYL-Part One | PRONOUNCING TENNILLE

Let me tell you about the first time I met Daryl. It was in the summer of 1971. But first, I have to back up a few years. Just about the time I was finishing my sophomore year at Auburn University in Alabama, my father moved the family from Alabama to southern California. Frankly, the family furniture business did not thrive under Daddy’s care. Having tasted show business in the big band era as vocalist with Bob Crosby’s big band, the Bob Cats, he was never happy in the confines of retail business.
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Daddy was a charmer....all who met him adored him. He was great with people, setting them at ease, and making them comfortable and happy. So he took a job in Customer Relations with the Autonetics Division of North American Aviation in Orange County, California, and moved the family there.
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When I finished up my sophomore year at Auburn, I went to California to take a summer job at Autonetics Daddy arranged for me and my sister, Jane. Once I saw southern California, there was no returning to Alabama! I stayed at Autonetics for several years, working as a statistician and then as a security guard at the Research Center.
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Since I always wanted to keep my hand in the arts in some way, in the evenings I acted in various community theatre productions while working during the day. Eventually I found my way to South Coast Reportary Theatre (SCR) in Costa Mesa, California. At that time, it was just a little “storefront” theatre, but the productions were brilliant and innovative. Incidently, since those long-ago days, SCR has become a theatrical force to reckon with, having won a Tony award for Best Regional Theatre in the country. It is now housed in a magnificent theatre in Costa Mesa, California.
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Getting back to my story......While I was at SCR, I wrote a musical called MOTHER EARTH with Ron Thronson, a wonderful guy who was one of the SCR directors. In fact, Ron was really the reason I write music today. He had an idea for a musical review with a “save-the-earth” ecology theme, and needed someone to write the music. He knew I was a singer and pianist, and he asked me one day if I thought I could write music for his lyrics. I thought, “Why not give it a try?” Up until that time, I had only written a couple of songs, just for myself, to see if I could do it. I ended up writing an entire musical!!!
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MOTHER EARTH had its premiere at SCR in 1969. Reviewers from LA newspapers often attended SCR productions, and on opening night we were reviewed by several papers, including the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and a few smaller papers. All the reviews were fabulous! We had a hit on our hands, and had no idea what to do with it. What happened to Ron and me and MOTHER EARTH after that was a real lesson in what NOT to do in “show business”. They don’t call it show BUSINESS for nothing, as we were to find out to our great dismay. But that’s ANOTHER story.
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Whoops. I was supposed to be telling you how I met Daryl for the first time. I now realize I have a lot more to tell you to “set the stage” for that encounter. I’ll get to that next week. I’ll just say that San Francisco and the Marine’s Memorial Theatre figure prominently in the story.
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On another note.....I received an email, asking about the pronunciation of Tennille. All of you know that I pronounce it, “ten-EEL.” My family is from the south....Alabama....and trace our roots back to a Revolutionary War Colonel named Francis Tennille. There are two small towns in the south named after him....Tennille, Georgia, and Tennille, Alabama. Tennille is a French name, as is my middle name, Antoinette (“Toni”). When I was growing up, our family pronounced the name “TIN-el”, rhymes with “fennel”. Over the generations, the beautiful French pronunciation became “southernized.” Both Tennille towns pronounce it in the southernized way.
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Daddy always longed to return to the original pronunciation of Tennille, so when he moved the family to California, he went back to “ten-EEL” and all of his daughters are glad he did. We like the sound of it much better! I don’t think the CAPTAIN AND “TIN-el” would have sounded nearly as good as the CAPTAIN AND “ten-EEL” does!
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Next week I WILL tell you about the first time I ever saw Daryl, where I saw him, and what my first impressions of him were. Until then, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, “Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!”
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July 23, 2006
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LOUISA | THE CHRISTMAS CD | THE WHITE HOUSE

Wow...I am SO late getting to this week’s column. I usually write it on Saturday, let it “sit” overnight, read it Sunday morning to see if I REALLY wanted to say that, and then Daryl uploads it. However, time got away from me this week.
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First of all I want to thank all of you who wrote asking about my sister Louisa’s health, and sending good wishes to her. As those of you who have read her Medical Diary on our site know, she was successfully treated for Hyperparathyrodism in Tampa last month. All of the symptoms related to that disease are GONE, thanks to Dr. James Norman’s incredible skill. However, she continued to have pain in her abdomen, and it turns out she ALSO had a condition called Pancreatic Sphincter Stenosis. Poor Louisa seemed to draw the bad health card in the family. I went down to Los Angeles this past week to be with her while she had corrective surgery at Cedars-Sinai for that problem. She is home now, recuperating, but it has been a really rough summer for her. She will be just fine in time to take on her class of adoring third graders this fall.
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Also....thank you all so much for your wonderful comments on THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. It is so heartwarming to Daryl and me that you seem to like what you hear in the little “snippets” of all 14 tunes that make up our Christmas CD. He and I believe it is the finest thing we have created together, and it was certainly the most collaborative work we have ever done. It was a joy for us both to conceive and create it. Believe me, we are as frustrated as you are that (barring a miracle) we will not be able to get it out to you in time for this holiday season. I want to explain to all of you why this is the case.
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When an artist is going to release a Christmas CD, everything must be in place.... CD artwork done and CDs packaged and ready to go, promo copies ready to be sent to magazines, newspapers and radio stations, publicist poised to set up print interviews and television appearances. All these things must be lined up and set to go by the end of JUNE. For example, in order to be considered for a magazine article (such as Vanity Fair, AARP, People, etc), you must have product ready to submit to them by June. The lead time for magazine articles is several months, and they plan their holiday issues way ahead of time. An artist’s publicist MUST plan the publicity campaign, and execute it properly, or the public will not be aware that the product is out there.
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Because our deal with R2 fell apart, and we are just now finishing up the legal papers to assure we are free and clear of them, we are just too late to get anything going for the Christmas CD this year. The good news is, we own our masters, and control what happens to them. We thought about making the album available for download on itunes, but we don’t have an accounting system in place at this time to pay out the royalties due to the songwriters. And....hardly anyone would even know it was available, since it is too late to promote it. Those, unfortunately, are the facts of the music business. But, we believe THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is timeless, and it will sound just as good next year!
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One cute little story about MUSKRAT LOVE. I don’t have time today to tell you the entire rest of the story (MUSKRAT LOVE - Part 2), but here’s a charming story involving former President Gerald Ford. Those of you who are longtime fans and have been to many of our concerts have heard me talk about the time we sang MUSKRAT LOVE at The White House. It was 1976, and President Ford was in office at the time.
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Cut to many years after that infamous White House C&T concert in the East Room. Daryl and I have, for years, visited friends in the Coachella Valley of Southern California, where Palm Springs is located, and, since the early 1980s, I have played golf in the Nabisco/Dinah Shore LPGA Championship ProAm in Rancho Mirage. We now have a winter home in that area.
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President and Mrs. Ford have lived in Rancho Mirage for years, and attend many charitable events there. I have run into them several times, and they are always gracious and charming. The first time our paths crossed at one of these events, Mrs. Ford said to the President, “Darling, you remember Toni and Daryl. They performed for us at the White House.” He looked at us, smiled widely and said, “Oh, yes. I remember. You sang that song about the mice! ” I didn’t have the heart to correct him. That is something I will never forget!
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Until next time, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
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July 19, 2006

CARL WILSON of the BEACH BOYS sings on YOUTUBE.com

by GUEST COLUMNIST: Daryl Dragon / aka THE CAPTAIN

READ THE-
ENTIRE COLUMN & WATCH THE CAPTAIN IN A Classic, Beach Boys VIDEO - HERE
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July 16, 2006
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PINK FLOYD, THE WALL, AND ME

Before I begin today’s topic, I need to talk about your emails. Of course you know I am enjoying them very much, and I’m saving your questions and suggestions for future columns. However, I must ask you not to write more than ONCE a week. I want to read them all, but some of you, in your enthusiasm, write several times a week. When I see email addresses I have heard from many, many times in a week, I delete them without reading them. Please save up your questions and comments, and write no more than once a week, and please try to be succinct. I want to read them all, and as I receive more and more emails, I am running out of time to read them. Thank you so much for understanding.

In the late 1970s, BRUCE JOHNSTON and the late CARL WILSON of the Beach Boys, JOHN JOYCE, an LA studio singer, and I occasionally sang together as a background quartet for recording sessions. It didn’t happen often, because all of our schedules were very busy, but you can hear our work on a few notable recordings.... listen carefully to Elton John’s DON’T LET THE SUN GO DOWN ON ME and you might be able to pick out my voice in the background vocals.
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When constructing the harmonies we sang, we usually placed my voice in the center of the chord. My voice is in the male tenor range, and is very distinctive. The whole point of background harmonies is to have a seamless sound and vocally perfect blend. My voice stood out less, and blended better with the other voices if it were placed in the middle.
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One day in late 1979, Bruce called me and asked if I would be interested in doing a background session for the famous rock group PINK FLOYD. They were in LA, working on a new album, and needed some background work. To be honest with you, although I had heard their name, I wasn’t at all familiar with their music, but I ALWAYS keep an open mind musically, and I thought it would be really interesting to see how the “other half” works in a recording session. I told Bruce I’d love to, and a date was set.
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The session was set up for a Sunday morning at an unpretentious Hollywood recording studio called Producer’s Workshop. Daryl went with me...he was pretty curious, too. I guess I sort of expected to walk into a studio full of people lying around, smoking dope...lots of groupies..that sort of thing. What I found when we got there surprised me completely!
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We were met, almost as soon as we walked in the front door, by Dave Gilmore, who, along with Roger Waters, was the face and sound of Pink Floyd at that time (they have since parted ways). Dave greeted me and Daryl heartily with a smile and a handshake, and stated that he had seen us on television that morning. I immediately thought, “What was a rock star doing, watching Sunday morning television?” Daryl and I had recently taped a guest appearance on a children’s TV show called KIDS ARE PEOPLE TOO, and Dave told us he watched it that morning with his kids! So much for the “rock star” stereotype!
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It turns out I would be working that day on a new concept album they were going to call THE WALL. I had no idea at the time what a musical landmark it would be. When Bruce, Carl and John arrived, we set to the business at hand. People often ask me “Which songs did you sing on?” Well...at the time, we worked on sections of songs that had no name. They would play a section of a song, tell us what they wanted in the way of backgrounds, and we sang them.
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I was really struck at the professionalism of the entire session. These guys meant business, and they knew exactly what they wanted. If there were any drugs going on, I never saw it. Of course, I have to say that throughout our career, Daryl and I rarely saw even a hint of the rampant drug use that was going on in the music business at the time. People knew we weren’t into it, and usually kept it hidden from us at various industry functions.... at least, they never told us where the coke room was set up!
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I have nothing but good memories of that background session for THE WALL. Before we left, Dave asked me if Daryl and I would like to come to the LA concert they would be doing in support of the album’s release. I told him of COURSE I would love to come! He promised to call me when the dates were set. I went home and promptly forgot about it.
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Then, in early February of 1980, the phone rang at our home in Pacific Palisades, CA. It was Dave Gilmore, asking if we still wanted to go to the first performance of THE WALL at the LA Sports arena. He would leave tickets for us at the box office. I had no idea at the time what a special, musically-historical, FABULOUS event it would be, and what a privilege it would be to have been there! I’ll tell you the rest of the story next week. In the meantime, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston, KEEP A SONG OF JOY INSIDE YOUR HEART!

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July 9, 2006

THE SAGA OF SAM AND SUSIE - Part One

Ah...MUSKRAT LOVE....so reviled, so adored, so loathed, so loved. Who knew that song would still be rattling people’s cages thirty years after we recorded it?
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Before I tell you some MUSKRAT LOVE stories, let me say that I have NEVER understood why some people get so upset about that song. I agree...there have been some dreadful pop songs over the years. I particularly dislike Paul Anka’s SHE’S HAVING MY BABY and Jack Jones’ WIVES & LOVERS (aka "Hey Little Girl")'. At least Jack has the sensitivity to admit what a terrible, sexist song it is, even though it was a huge hit for him in the ‘60s. But MUSKRAT LOVE???? Come on, people....did it ever occur to you that we might have performed that song with just a touch of irony?
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Well....it was a million seller for us, and quite lucrative for its composer, Willis Alan Ramsey. Humorist Dave Barry, among others, always places it in his annual Top Ten list of Worst Pop Singles Ever. It seems that people either love MUSKRAT LOVE, or loathe it. They either have it played at their weddings, or burn any copies they can find. I find both extremes a little hard to understand.
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Our saga with MUSKRAT LOVE began about 1973, when we were working at a place called The Smokehouse in Encino, California. We had begun to draw quite a crowd each night, and started to think we might have something special going for us. We did the usual mix of Top 40 tunes....lots of Elton John, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder....and other current songs that appealed to us. I also sang some songs I had written myself, like THE WAY I WANT TO TOUCH YOU.
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Daryl and I used to listen to the radio constantly, looking for new tunes to perform. One evening, as we were driving to our Smokehouse gig, we heard a recording by the group, AMERICA. The vocals were kind of buried in the mix, but I thought I heard the words, “muskrat love.” I thought it was pretty amusing, and suggested to Daryl that we head to the music store the next day to try to find the sheet music.
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Right there in the store, as I was reading the lyrics, I found myself laughing out loud! “What a hoot,” I thought, as I read them aloud to Daryl. We decided to work up an arrangement, and try it out in the club.
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Daryl fooled around with his Arp Odyssey synthesizer until he had a sound that he THOUGHT might bring Sam and Susie musically to life. In those days, you couldn’t “store” sounds in a keyboard’s memory...you had to re-create the sound each time you needed it, so Daryl had to fiddle around with the synthesizer every time we performed the song to get the muskrat sound. In fact, because he had to re-create just about every sound he used for each song, I talked to the audience quite a bit to fill in the “dead” spaces. In those first years, I became quite adept at chatting with the audience while Daryl searched for a particular sound, or, mid-concert, tried to find out why one of his keyboards wasn’t working. That is why I became Miss Chatty Kathy onstage, and Daryl became so “quiet” and totally focused on his instruments. I am naturally more gregarious than Daryl, and he is naturally rather quiet, but circumstances on stage made those traits much more pronounced.
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Well...to bring THIS chapter of the MUSKRAT LOVE saga to a close, we tried out the song in The Smokehouse, and it was a SMASH! We had constant requests to play it over and over. I finally had to make a rule that we would play it only twice a night!
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I have many more stories to tell you about MUSKRAT LOVE, the third biggest-selling hit single we ever had......why we decided to record it, how we ended up singing it at The White House for the Queen of England, etc...... but those stories will have to wait for another column. In the meantime, you MUSKRAT haters...calm down. After all, you COULD be listening to SHE’S HAVING MY BABY!
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On a closing note....thank all of you for writing. It is rewarding and enlightening to read your emails. It is so interesting to me to read what interests YOU about Captain and Tennille. If I don’t answer your particular questions right away, keep reading. I’ll get around to them eventually. And always, in the words of the late, great Billy Preston...Keep A Song Of Joy Inside Your Heart!
July 2, 2006
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“MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT” | TONI’S HEALTH RANT!
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If you are a singer, or aspire to be a singer, this should be your mantra...... MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT. And I’m not kidding! What does this mean? This means you cannot open up a case, and take your body out, and play it like a trumpet or a violin or a keyboard. I’m always telling Daryl how envious I am, that he can play even if he has a cold or an allergy attack, or hasn’t slept well the night before. He just takes that keyboard out of the case, turns it on, and starts playing. If you are a singer, you can get away with bad health habits for a while, but if you are interested in preserving your voice in top shape for many, many years, I hope you will heed what I’m going to tell you.
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When you are a singer, your entire career depends on tiny vocal cords the size of a pencil lead. They are fragile and sensitive, and their health totally depends on how well you take care of yourself. Before I rant on about other health issues for singers, I’m going to state the obvious. DON’T SMOKE and DON’T DO DRUGS. Period.
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So many things can wreck a concert or recording session for a singer. Some things you can’t always control, like exposure to smoke or dust or other allergens, but most of them you can. The most important thing you can do for those tiny vocal cords and your voice is to make healthy choices in how you care for your body. You MUST stay fit, and if you aren’t fit, you need to GET fit.
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EXERCISE!!! At least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. Get off your duff and MOVE. Do whatever exercise you LIKE to do. Exercise should never be drudgery. You should enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.
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I LOVE to walk. Daryl and I walk at a snappy pace in the hills around our house with the dogs first thing every morning for about an hour. We spend the time watching birds and arguing about politics. When we’re on the road, it is more difficult, since hotels are often in neighborhoods that aren’t condusive to walking. However, most hotels now have gyms with treadmills, exercise bikes, and some weight training equipment. USE THE HOTEL GYM if there is no other alternative.
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I believe it is important for singers to strengthen their abs. I do 100 crunches on a fitness ball three days a week, along with other strength moves with fairly light weights and lots of reps. Make the time and DO IT. A toned and strengthened body keeps your INSTRUMENT in top shape, and gives you more confidence on stage.
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It is really important for a singer to stay hydrated. Keep that water bottle handy, and sip from it often, especially when you’re singing. Limit caffeine before a concert.....it is dehydrating, and dries out the cords...your PRECIOUS vocal cords. I like to have a glass of wine AFTER a concert...but never before. Alcohol can be dehydrating as well...although it never seemed to hurt Frank Sinatra (until the end of his career), since he was rumored to have sipped Jack Daniels from a water glass during his concerts!
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Don’t eat crappy foods. I’m not kidding. Sure..life without chocolate is not worth living...and I believe dessert is the reason we eat dinner! But I think you will find a HUGE benefit from these simple food suggestions.....
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1. Try to eat a fresh salad everyday. Iceberg lettuce is a nutritional zero, so use darker greens like romaine and spinach. Throw in any chopped fresh vegies you like. Maybe a little string cheese, some chopped almonds, some cooked and chilled black beans, fresh tomatoes, avocado....you get the idea. Make a dressing with extra virgin olive oil....that heart-friendly elixer of the gods..... and some white or red wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, or balsamic vinegar. Toss in some chopped fresh herbs.... thyme, oregano, mint, whatever you like.
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2. Your carbs should be WHOLE GRAIN. When you eat bread or pasta or cereal, make sure it is whole grain. Check the labels. The first ingredient listed should be “100% whole wheat”, or whatever grain is used....”100%” is the important thing. Check to see how much fiber is in a serving. There should be at least 3 grams of fiber. More is better.
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3. Eat fruit every day, especially dark blue and red fruits. I eat almost all of my daily fruit in the morning for breakfast. I eat a HUGE breakfast everyday..... whole grain cereal, non-fat yogurt and fruit. The way I get my fruit might not appeal to all of you, but it is easy, and none of it “goes bad” before I get around to eating it. I buy bags of frozen blueberries (“brain” food), blackberries and black cherries (these are MY favorites...you might like other kinds), and keep them in the freezer. Every morning I put two cups of frozen fruit in the microwave and heat the fruit to just “warm”. It is delicious with vanilla non-fat yogurt and whole grain cereal, and gives me a powerhouse, nutritious start to the day. Once in a while, mainly when I am on the road, I’ll have some scrambled eggs and whole grain toast and fruit for a change of pace.
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As I am writing this, I’m thinking of a million more health tips I’d like to give you. I’ll have to save them for another column. But, seriously, I worry about all of you who don’t take care of yourselves. If you are a singer, you MUST do that. You may get away with a terrible diet and no exercise for a while, but if you want your voice to last over many years, you have to take care of yourself. Whatever you do, all of you singers out there, remember and say this mantra to yourselves.....MY BODY IS MY INSTRUMENT.
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Here’s a neat recipe for a side dish...healthy and fresh for summer, and very easy. There is fresh corn in the markets right now. Always try to take advantage of whatever vegies are in season.
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EASY NO-COOK FRESH CORN SALAD
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Cut kernels from 4 cobs of fresh sweet white corn with a sharp knife to make 3 cups of kernels. Toss with 1/3 cup finely diced red onion, 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (Costco’s Kirkland Brand is excellent and relatively inexpensive), 1 TBSP fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Great as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.
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Well....that’s my health lecture for this week. If I can get just ONE of you to rethink how you take care of yourself, I’ll be happy. Until next week.....Keep a Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!
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By the way, Louisa is recovering beautifully from her surgery. She has already written her first 'GUEST COLUMN' just below. Thank all of you for asking about her!
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July 2, 2006

A FIX FOR HYPERPARATHYROIDISM

by GUEST COLUMNIST: Louisa Tennille (Toni's sister)

READ THE
ENTIRE COLUMN HERE
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DAY ONE - Getting There - Saturday - June 24th
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I left LAX on Saturday, June 24th, at 12:30 in the afternoon, headed for Dallas. Toni left at the same time from Reno,NV. We landed in Dallas within a half hour of each other, but…
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DAY TWO - Sunday - June 25th
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My sister, Jane, arrived around ten o’clock the next morning. She lives in Orlando, and drove over to spend the next few days being “Nurse Jane” for me, her much, MUCH younger sister (Jane is a hospice nurse in Orlando.) She settled into my…
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DAY THREE - Surgery - Monday - June 26th
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We arrived at the Tampa General Hospital at 9AM. Within minutes, I was registered, had my wrist band, and was waiting to be called back into the surgery center (I had already preregistered by phone while still in California). When they came for me, Toni and Jane were…
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DAY FOUR - Day of Rest - Tuesday - June 27th
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Toni and Jane headed off for more shopping (there were still things to be bought!) and lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I was having a bit of pain, so…
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DAY FIVE - Heading Home - Wednesday - June 28th

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What was that horrible ringing, and why wouldn’t it stop? I then realized it was Toni with my 5AM wake-up call. Sixto (our driver) would be arriving at 6:15 to take us to the airport. It was time to head home to…

READ THE ENTIRE COLUMN HERE
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June 25, 2006

HYPERPARATHYROIDISM |
ON THE ROAD BLUES
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I am writing this on a plane bound from Reno, Nevada (where we live) to Tampa, Florida. My sister, Louisa, is scheduled for Hyperparathyroid surgery in Tampa on Monday, and I, and her other “big” sister, Jane, will be there with her. Daryl is home, taking care of our three dogs and three cats, and pretending he doesn’t see the occasional hairball, which will surely be there to greet me when I get home in a few days. “What hairball? I didn’t see a hairball. The cat must have JUST coughed it up.” (The hairball, when I see it, is totally dried out and crusty).
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Louisa’s Hyperparathyroid saga is a story she has promised to write soon in a guest column. It is a nine-month long odyssey of pain, stress and anguish, in which SHE finally diagnosed HERSELF! The moral of her story is that, in this dreadful healthcare system we now find ourselves in, you MUST take charge of your own care! You will read her story soon.
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Many of you have asked why Daryl and I no longer tour. This is a long and complicated story, and goes back a very long way....to the very beginning of our career. You wanted to know whether or not I enjoy performing for our fans. Of course I do! The time on stage, sharing music with you, is a true joy. It is all the time on either side of the concert that is so difficult for me.

I am a real “homebody”. It takes a great incentive to get me to leave my home and my animals (and, once in a while, Daryl..when I’m doing symphony or Big Band) and head “out there”, even for a vacation. This is nothing new for me. The traveling “blues” hit me hard with our very first tour in 1975, and have only become deeper and more intense as the years have gone by, I really can’t explain why I am this way, but I remember times, years ago, when we left our warm and beautiful home in the darkness of a cold, icy winter morning, heading for the airport. As I said goodbye to our pets, and closed the door behind me, I would feel a sadness come over me, and I’d truly wish I could turn around, open the door, hug the pets, and stay right there.
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I would try to keep the upcoming concert in my mind as a kind of beacon....a beam of light to guide me through this kind of “on the road depression.’ And truly, when I was on stage, all was forgotten. The true joy and fun of singing and making music with Daryl, and sharing it with the audience, pushed away the clouds for a while.
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I still don’t feel I’m explaining it properly. It is more than the inconveniences and hassles of travel. It is a kind of an emotional cord that connects my heart to my home, that stretches almost to the breaking point as I fly away, and slowly eases and relaxes as I start the journey home.
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Daryl and I are both very private people, and it is really hard to remain private when you are “out there”. We have always felt that we owed our fans a great show, but that our private lives were our own. Yes, I’m writing a column now, where I am sharing some of these formerly private thoughts, but I’m hoping that, by sharing some of these thoughts, those of you who have been our fans for so many years will understand us a bit more.
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We’ve been asked why we haven’t written a book about ourselves and our lives. Truly, we don’t consider our lives that interesting. For example, we have been married for over thirty years, but we would never presume to give advice to anybody else on how to have a good marriage. What works for us would not necessarily work for any other couple. I’m always suspicious of people who claim to have the answers to all of life’s deep and important questions. Daryl and I sure don’t know them. Well, maybe Daryl does!
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The truth of it is simple....Daryl and I were each born with a gift for music. That is what we do. We were very lucky to have been in the right place at the right time, and we were fairly well prepared, through practice and experience, to make music our career. We never stopped learning as we went. We’re still learning.
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Well...I’ve rambled on enough for this time. I probably should have an editor, although I don’t. Except that once in a while Daryl will say, “You’re not going to write THAT, are you?!!!” And he’s usually right. Until next time, Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart!”
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June 17, 2006

TWO LITTLE WHITE LIES | CHRISTMAS CD UPDATE

It has been absolutely fascinating to read your emails about my new column. And, before I get off on a tangent, thank you all so much for writing. After reading your comments and questions, I already have so many ideas for future columns, I won’t run out of topics for a very long time!
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Today I’m going to answer a question that popped up in many of your emails. So many of you expressed surprise when I said that I just turned 66 years old. Most of you said you thought I was born in 1943, and of course you would think that, since almost all newspapers and magazines have reported that date since our career began. Here’s the scoop on “the age lie.”
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When Daryl and I had our first hit, LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER, it reached number one in the summer of 1975. I was thirty-five years old, but very naive about “show biz.” Daryl and I created our music because we absolutely loved doing it.... not because we wanted to be famous. However, fame would follow hit records, as we soon found out.
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By the time LWKUT hit #1, we had a management company, an agent, and a publicist. Before our first important interview (I think it was with People magazine), our publicist told me the reporter would surely ask my age, and advised me to take at least five years off. I was 35, and this was considered “old” for the start of a recording career. It is still considered old today.
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I really find it very hard to lie about anything, and I wrestled with the idea for quite a while before the interview. Finally, I decided to take THREE years off. I looked much younger than my age, and I thought it would be okay because, as the publicist put it, “Everybody does it.”
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Sure enough, during the interview, the “age” question was asked. I heard myself answer, “Thirty-two,” as I felt my nose grow another inch or two. So, ever since then, my year of birth has been reported as 1943, when it is actually 1940. I’ve always felt uncomfortable about that lie, but I’ll have to tell you that every time I go home to Alabama for a concert or visit, or run into an old friend from my school days, one of them will always say, “Well...I’m GLAD to read that WE are so YOUNG!!!!” They still razz me about it to this day.
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But now, the truth is out, and I actually feel a great sense of relief, not having to calculate when I was SUPPOSED to have graduated highschool versus when I actually DID!
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Oh....one other little publicist-encouraged white lie. Daryl and I were NOT married on Valentine’s Day. Our publicist thought it would be “cute” to say that. Ugh. I felt horribly guilty when we would receive lovely anniversary cards from our fans on Valentine’s Day.
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When were we actually married? Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1975, in Virginia City, Nevada. That’s another story for another day.
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By the way, Daryl says thanks so much for asking about him. He has promised to write something for the column in the future.
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We still don’t know what is going to happen with our beautiful Christmas CD, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS. Respond 2 Entertainment, the releasing company, appears to be in some kind of corporate restructuring. We do not know exactly what their problem is, since they have not been forthright with us. However, it looks doubtful for a release by R2 this year, because promotion for Christmas-related products MUST be started by the end of June. However, THE SECRET OF CHRISTMAS is musically timeless and we are perfectly willing to wait another year until we have the right release situation in place. We CAN tell you that it will not be R2. But believe me, when you finally hear it, you will love this CD, and it will make you believe in the Christmas spirit again... and this from me... the BIGGEST Bah Humbug in the world !
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Don’t forget to Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart until next week! By the way, did you know that the late, wonderful keyboardist, Billy Preston, wrote SONG OF JOY? I think that, although it wasn’t his most popular song, it was his most heartfelt and most beautiful.....”With every note I play, I play with love. With every word I sing, it’s coming from my heart. And so I sing a Song of Joy for you, with all the happiness this melody brings.”

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June 11, 2006

SENIOR YEARS | CHRISTMAS CD | HEALTHY LIVING

I have decided, in my “Senior Years,” that I am going to start a blog. Well....not really a blog...more like a weekly column of thoughts and musings about whatever comes to my mind at the time. After all, Daryl and I are both well into our 60s now....I just turned 66 in May (can’t believe it myself), and I think I have the right to say whatever the heck I want to. You may, or may not, find this interesting, but I’d like to hear from you if you do. Write to me at tonistaken@aol.com.

Now, let’s first talk about “Senior Years”. I am finding myself in pretty darned good health. I’ve taken very good care of myself over the years, and I’m still strong and active. I’m not as fanatic about my diet as Daryl is... chocolate never touches his lips (even if it IS good for you, as we now know)....but I eat lots of fruit and vegies, low fat or non fat yogurt, whole grain bread and pasta, and exercize regularly. Daryl and I walk our two rambunctious Australian Shepherds every day for about an hour in the hills around our house, and I do strength training at home three times a week. So I just don’t think of myself as “senior” or “elderly”, although, technically, I guess I am. Every now and then I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and see my dear mother (rest her soul) looking back at me, but that happens to every woman eventually, I think.

Here is something I’ve discovered about becoming a “senior citizen”....you kind of disappear. By that I mean, as you go about your daily business (supermarket, gas station, dry cleaners) people often look right through you, and I am hard to look right through, being a woman who is 5’ 11” and 154 pounds. Of course, there are always those people who recognize me and Daryl, but the very young ones, who have absolutely no clue, treat us like they would any other “elderly” person....we hardly exist.

Recently, I was reading an online magazine I subscribe to, when a pop-up (hate those things) suddenly appeared, asking me, sweetly, to take an “important survey”. It would only take “a few minutes of my time,” the popup said, and they really would like my opinion. “Oh, why not?” I said to myself, and clicked. The first question was multiple choice....”What is your age group?” Well....MY age group was the last one listed....65 and older. I clicked. The survey vanished. They really don’t care what I, or anyone else my age and older, thinks. Hmmph.

There are many indiginities associated with aging, and I will fill you in on more of them as I write this column each week. But I promise I will also write about lots of other things, too.

Actually, I intended to tell you about the Christmas CD Daryl and I have been working since last year. It is finished...it is beautiful, joyous, funny, and we are more thrilled with this CD than almost anything we’ve ever done together. However, it will NOT be released this season as planned, thanks to Respond2 Entertainment, who was to be the releasing company. It is a VERY long story, and I promise to fill you in on it next week.....maybe even sooner. I’m on a roll here! Remember to Keep A Song of Joy Inside Your Heart until next week. This is fun!

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